Tag Archives: Release

How to Slay the Demons of Your Fears

I was having breakfast with a friend this morning. She wanted to try out this new restaurant that opened up nearby. It’s interesting how difficult it can be to open and maintain a restaurant. They can be incredibly rewarding, if you open up in the right location, and have the kind of food and environment that people like. There are a lot of variables that go into it. I remember reading a survey a while back, asking people what was the most important thing about a dining experience. I think the quality of the actual food came in third or fourth behind ambiance, and the general feeling of the place. Even McDonalds’ mission statement stresses “experience” over anything else. Experience can be a tricky thing to define. It can be really subjective, many people experiencing the same thing as different. Some people might not really enjoy something, but others can really like this. It’s like when you see this, you can really think to yourself how much you can enjoy this.

My friend was telling me about how she came up with an interesting way to help her toddler overcome nightmares. He is three, and is starting to have scary dreams. She was telling me how her physician told her that some children have more bad dreams than good dreams, so it’s important to develop good strategies to help overcome  fears. She had read a few books on child development, and being an ex kindergarten teacher, she was pretty well equipped to handle these kinds of things, so of course I was interested in what she did.

She said that whenever her son would wake up from a nightmare, she would ask him to describe it. She noticed that the more he described his dreams, the scarier they got. The monsters became meaner, with bigger teeth and hungrier looks in their eyes. Sometimes he would even imagine that they had blood dripping from them. So my friend decided to try something. She gently helped her child change some of the things that he’d experienced in the dream, without really changing the actual content. She changed the meaning behind the content.

For example, instead of having teeth that were dripping blood, the monster suddenly had teeth that were dripping chocolate sauce. Instead of having hungry looks in his eyes, the monsters eyes were red from laughing at a funny cartoon. And instead of having a mean look on his face, it became a look of consternation as he was trying to quietly fart without drawing attention to himself.

I asked her if this worked, and she said that it didn’t take long for her kid to begin to do this on his own. He would wake up, and as he started to recall his dream, he could change the pictures around so it wouldn’t be as scary. She said the trick was to take whatever pictures you come up with, and play with changing around certain aspects of them. You can use it for things other that scary dreams. You can use it on memories, or imaginations of the future, as well.

For example, if you have a particular memory you’d like to change, you can still remember the actual memory the same way, but change the meaning of the content. Like if you remember somebody yelling at you, you might have remembered that it was because you did something wrong, which would in turn cause you to feel not so good. But if you remember them as yelling at you because they were in a bad mood because they themselves got yelled at, it’s not so bad.

She went on to say that you could also play around with changing the actual content. For example, you can take a memory of a teacher yelling at you in front of the class in third grade, and shrink the teacher down in your mind to where she is only three inches tall, and her voice sounds like Mickey Mouse would if he had inhaled some helium. Then when you remember the class laughing in the background, you can remember them as laughing at her, and not you.

I thought that that little three year old is pretty lucky to have a mom that would become so interested in making sure that you can do these things to make your fears go away. I’ll be interested in seeing how much he can turn into a more resourceful person with so many skills to help others.

Create Internal Coalitions to Unlock Your Potential

The other day I was talking to an acquaintance of mine. She is a woman I met recently, and we have an occasion to bump into each other once in a while. I had asked her how her recent weekend was, and she explained that she had finally broken up with her boyfriend of many years. She seemed to exhibit an extreme feeling of lightness and relief when she described the breakup. Normally when you hear people talking about a breakup, they are sad, angry, frustrated, victimized. But not this lady. She was ecstatic, because the relationship had gone on much longer than she’d wanted to. I’m sure you know somebody that is in a relationship that, on one level, they realize it’s not very healthy, but on another level they don’t really have the courage to extract themselves from it. Such is the nature of human problems. They never are straightforward, or easy.

Despite the fact that she spent the last weekend happily removing any remembrance of him from her house, she was going to celebrate by going out drinking with her friends. She then explained that was the one thing that she and her ex boyfriend had in common, an affinity for alcohol. Then went on to explain some other lingering problems in her life, and was explicit in her reasons for drinking. It allows her to forget the stresses and worries of the day. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of forgetting the stresses and worries of the day. Too much focus on what’s ailing you (and believe me, all of us have something ailing us) will generally only make things seem much worse than they are. And I also fully appreciate the fantastic effects a few drinks can have on your mood. I’m a scotch on the rocks man myself.

But when she continued describing her plans to go out until the wee hours of the morning, she started seemed to lose her happiness. As she described how she usually dreaded the day after, as once she starts, she can’t really control herself, it became apparent that this might not be the best strategy for stress relief, at least not for her. All doubts disappeared when she voiced one of the biggest killers to human happiness:

“I want to quit, but I can’t.”

That short sentence sums up the vast horrors of personal emotional suffering. I want to….but I can’t….or I need to…. But I can’t… Or perhaps the most insidious, I have to….but I can’t….

Why are certain problems so difficult to get around? Some have called these paradoxical problems because as much as we want to get rid of them we are receiving some kind of benefit from perpetuating them, no matter how ludicrous or illogical it may seem.

One way to get to the heart of this is a mind experiment called “Parts Integration.” What this technique does is dig down beneath the reasons for holding on to behaviors that don’t seem to be helpful, and finding out the hidden benefit in them. Once you figure out the hidden benefit, you can find other ways to fulfill it. When can find better ways to do this, the unwanted behavior has no reason to stick around, and vanishes.

This kind of procedure can be best done with somebody else guiding you, but it’s not necessary. Here are the basic steps. (Be forewarned, it’s kind of goofy and requires liberal use of your imagination, such as having a two-way conversation with different parts of yourself.)

Ask the “part” of you that is responsible for the behavior to come out. Hold it in your right hand.

Ask the “part” of you that wants to stop the behavior to come out. Hold it in your left hand.

Keep asking the two parts their underlying reasons for doing what they are doing. Ask these “parts” questions like “Why is that important, what is important about that?” It’s important to be open for whatever answers present themselves, and to be accepting that grateful for the answers that do come. You will usually find that the part in your right hand is likely using a very old strategy to keep you safe and protected.
For example, you overeat because you feel good, you feel good so you won’t have to express yourself, and you don’t want to express yourself because you might get rejected. So in this case, overeating s (the bad behavior in this example) serves to protect you from getting rejected.

The part in your left hand wants you to stop eating because it’s not healthy. Being unhealthy will make you unattractive, and being unattractive will cause you to be shunned by others, and this will cause you your rejection.

In the above (way oversimplified) example, you find a place where both “parts” want the same thing, but they are each going about different ways to achieve it. Once “they” realize this, you can ask them to work together, and figure out a way that is both healthy, and will keep you safe and free from rejection. You ask the two “parts” to work together, and then bring them both to your chest. You then breathe in deeply and feel gratitude for this new relationship between the parts.

You may have to try this a few times before it “sticks,” but you’ll be amazed how freeing this exercise can be. Having patience pays off in this case. You find subtle shifts in the motivations that drive your behavior over time. Behaviors that you’ve had for a while can take some time to fully release, but it is absolutely possible to change your life around completely with this “procedure.”  There are many videos and resources available to help you get through this. This is but one of the many tools that are available to you that will allow you to unlock your potential.

Once you decide to make it a habit to always explore ways to improve yourself and your world, you’ll be light years ahead of where you used to be.

Release and Be Free

I remember when I was a kid we were studying anthropology in school. It wasn’t actually anthropology, because it was only third or fourth grade. I don’t think we actually studied anthropology until maybe high school. I guess it was called science, or maybe nature. Weird how that is. When you grow up and learn new things, things you experienced before take on a completely different light. Certain filters are removed from your experience, and certain filters are added. Things just don’t look the way they did back then. Which is kind of cool, when you think about. All I knew back then was this thing called “science.” Now I know about all different kinds of science and different ways to study and different fields. It’s truly amazing that the more you learn, the more there is to learn. It’s like each new thing you learn or experience has the possibility of branching into about a million other things. This is one of the reasons I think it’s important for people to always continue learning.

So our teacher recommended a movie that we watch. It was about animals and different tribes in Africa. There was on famous scene that stands out. I’ve heard this particular scene brought up in several different conversations related to several different things, so it’s likely that you’ve seen it or have at least heard about it.

It goes like this. These tribesmen knew a troupe of monkeys had a secret water stash someplace. But the monkeys were smart, and they never hit up their secret stash when they knew they were being followed. So the tribesman had to figure out a way to outsmart the monkeys. They found a small hole that went into a rock. It was maybe a few inches deep, and then opened up into a much large hole after an inch or so. They sat next to this hole until the a monkey happened by. Then they carefully, and obviously took some pieces of something out of a pouch, and then put them one by one into the hole, making sure the monkey would watch. Then they left. The monkey, being a curious little monkey, wanted to know what was in the hole. So he went over and stuck his hand in to grab the small mystery items. He could barely fit his monkey hand in the hole, but once he felt around and picked up all the mystery items, he couldn’t retract his hand, because when he clutched his fist to hold the items, it couldn’t come out of the hole.

Later on the tribesmen came back. They monkey was still stuck. They started feeding the monkey very salty snacks. The monkey kept eating, but his hand was still voluntarily stuck in the hole. All he had to do was release the mystery items, and he would be free. But his curiosity demanded that he hold the items. His monkey brain also demanded that he eat the free snacks. As time went by, he became thirstier and thirstier until he couldn’t bare it any more. He finally released the mystery items, and ran to his secret water source. He was so thirsty that he forgot to practice monkey stealth, and lead the tribesman directly to the secret monkey water source.

Now think about this poor monkey. He had set up a system where he had a resource, which he took pains to protect. Then he suddenly came across something that he became really interested in. Something he had to have. Like he said to himself “You really have to get this.” Or maybe he said to himself “You really need this here.” I don’t know. But he had a system set up, and he was derailed by his curiosity over something that might or might not have been an additional resource. Something he hadn’t set out looking for, something he hadn’t decided beforehand was important. He saw something, wanted it, and without any thought or planning wasted a lot of his effort chasing something that he didn’t even know the value of.

To make matters worse, when he had what he thought might be important in his grip, it became severely restricting. He couldn’t move. That which he had convinced himself was important had power over even his physical movement. To make matters worse, while he was in the clutches of this unknown, perhaps worthless item (most likely a handful of useless pebbles), he gave in more to his greed and gobbled up the free food that was given to him, which further reduced his power and choice.

Pretty soon the poor monkey was so desperate to overcome his sudden problems he decided the best course of action would be to reveal his secret resource to all who wanted it, perhaps diminishing its value completely. To chase something that might turn out to be completely worthless, the monkey gave up everything. Of course he was only a monkey. He didn’t know that the best way was to never be dependent on free stuff. To take your time to investigate things that falls out of the sky. And had he not been a monkey, he might have learned the most powerful lesson of all. When you find yourself in times of trouble, the best course of action might be to just release, and take a step back, instead of holding on tightly to something that is causing you all kinds of trouble.


How to Catch The Big Ones

I went on this fantastic fishing trip once. It was in Mexico, in the sea of Cortez. We hired a fishing boat, captained by an extremely knowledgeable man who knew the waters well. He would drive us to just the spot where we could not only catch really nice sized yellow fin tuna, but experience a plethora of other sea life that we wouldn’t get a chance to experience otherwise. Before then, I had never been deep sea fishing before. I had done plenty of fishing in lakes, and off piers, and in some streams, but never deep ocean fishing where you can expect to catch some really big fish. I wasn’t prepared for the differences in fishing for big fish versus fishing for small fish.

I have a friend that fishes for rainbow trout. He prides himself on his ability to catch a fish, and then release it without doing any harm to the fish whatsoever. He and his cousins get together and have these “hook modification” parties. They systematically go through all their fishing gear, and take all the barbs and elements of the fishing tackle that is designed to keep the fish on the hook. That way, they can remove the hook from the fishes gills without doing any damage. His philosophy is that if you aren’t going to keep it, you might as well make an effort so that you don’t harm it.

Which reminds me of a friend I used to know. He used to study a lot of really esoteric and metaphysically based martial arts. He was telling me that this one class he took, there was a really interesting instructor. He said that the secret to winning in any conflict is to completely detach yourself from the outcome. The reason is, when you have a thought of what you think is coming, your body naturally tenses in expectation, even slightly. What this does is telegraph what you are expecting to the other fighter, and if he has been able to develop enough skill, he will sense your movements. Because he knows what you expect, he knows what to defeat you. This guy said that when you completely release all expectations, you free yourself up to be open for whatever comes. That way your opponent will not be able to read you, and you will actually gain more power. The paradox is at first, when you release expectation, you feel like you are actually giving up power. And this guy said that the most experienced fighters realize the opposite is true. The more you release, the more you receive.

My friend says that the “hook modification parties” are one of the best parts of his yearly fishing parties with his cousins. They get together, hang out, and because they aren’t in any rush they can just relax and share stories and experiences. It’s really fun when you can allow yourself to do that.

Of course, those of you that have been deep sea fishing know that it’s important to let the fish run a bit, then reel him it a bit, then let him run, and then reel him in. You can’t just feel the tug, and immediately reel him in like smaller fish do. If you want to catch the big ones, you have to let their actions dictate how you will bring them in.


Clear the Path for Easy Living

This morning I was browsing in a new bookstore in my neighborhood. It is the kind of bookstore where they have used books as well as new books. Used book stores can be really fun to browse through, because you never know what you are going to find. Sometimes you’ll be looking through, and you will find some books that sort of look interesting, but not interesting enough to buy. Other times you can find things that you are really interested in. This particular bookstore had been only been open a couple of weeks, so they haven’t really built up their inventory of used books yet. They had quite a few new books. Novels, biographies, how to books, and even a few cookbooks. The store itself isn’t that large, so the aisles were pretty crowded, not like other bookstores, where people specifically go there for the open space.

Open space is important, because you need room to move around. I’m been moving around quite a bit in my life. Currently I’m living in my fifth country. It’s interesting how much extra stuff you think is really important that you naturally get rid of when you move as much as I have. I was telling a friend of mine the other day about all the cooking equipment I used to collect, because I really enjoy cooking. So I was in the habit of buying this, and buying that so that when I wanted to cook a really extravagant meal, I had the proper equipment to do so. But because I’ve moved so much, I’ve shed some the extra stuff that turned out to be not so important. A couple of large suitcases is really all you need.

It can be important to periodically take inventory of your life and see what extra baggage you are carrying around that isn’t that important. Or at least isn’t as important as you think it is. Because nothing can slow you down more than extra junk that can clog the precious neural pathways of your brain. When you just relax and release what isn’t important, your life can become easier. When you let go of fears, you can really begin to enjoy the ease with which you can live your life. And it really is a simple matter of shifting your thoughts towards ease and happiness, and away from stress and anxiety. One way to do this is through focused breathing. Another way to do this is through Chi Gong or other slow movement exercises. It’s not important exactly how specifically you choose to do this, rather that you do something on a regular basis that can clear out that which holds you back.

As it turns out, most of the cooking equipment I used to have, I didn’t really need. I can do the same thing that those machines did with creative use of some basic tools. And that can make cooking more fun.

And I’m not exactly sure where they will put all the new used books once they get them, because the shelves and aisles are already filled up with new books. I guess they are really confident that they will get a lot of business, and sell a lot of books. Perhaps their plan is that when people bring in their old books, they can get some money which they will then turn around and use to buy more books. And investing your money in books is a great idea, because learning is one of the greatest rewards in life. 



Walk Away From Stress and Anxiety

Boy are my feet tired. I met some folks this afternoon at a coffee shop downtown. We were lucky enough because we got a couple of tables next to each other. It was really crowded. It’s really lucky when you find something that can help you achieve your accomplishments. The weather was also nice today, as I mentioned in another article. It’s great when good things that are unexpected happen. You can kind of enjoy the realization of the situation, you know?

It’s like my friend, who is training to be a nurse. She has to go to night school to study after her regular nursing shift. Which is kind of busy, because not only is she pregnant, but she has a six year old son, and her husband works full time as well. I don’t know how some people manage. I have enough trouble getting to work on time. But one thing that happened to her was her husband was suddenly promoted. And the extra pay he got was enough to pay for the extra day care they’ll be needing when the second baby decides to show up. So they were pretty happy about that. I think she mentioned what they were going to name the baby.

Sometimes, though, you are just going through life and it seems like you just can’t ever catch up. It seems like whenever one thing stops, another starts right away. And if you get lucky at work, and you have some not downtime, you all of a sudden get flooded with a bunch of other stuff you have to do. My friend who teaches yoga always tells me that the key is to keep focus on the inside. When I asked him about that, he said that no matter what is going on in the outside world, you are in charge of your internal state. You are in charge of whether or not you feel stressed, or feel relaxed. You can choose to feel relaxed whenever you are in a situation that you used to think was stressful. He said that when he is able to practice breathing, he can train his mind to release anxiety whenever it comes up. And he always tells me how useful it is to just take a minute whenever you’re stressed, and just breath deeply, imagine the stress and anxiety going into your breath, and then slowly breath all the stress and anxiety out. He also says that it is a really good idea to do this just before sleep, because you want to release your stress before you fall asleep.

Which is one of the reasons my friend is pretty excited about her baby. She is expecting in about a month or two, I think. She is a great example of a really attentive mother. Whenever she talks about her kids, her face really lights up. I can tell her children are really important to her. And her husband seems like a nice guy as well, although I’ve never met him. You can always tell how strong a marriage is by how well they speak of each other when they’re not around.

And the reason my feet are so tired is because not only did I walk around downtown after the coffee shop, (window shopping,) but I took the train in the other direction and went to a fairly new shopping mall with lots of restaurants, where I walked around a little bit more. I did buy a new pair of walking shoes, which I will try out tomorrow morning when I take my morning walk through the rice fields.


Submitted For Your Approval

I was sitting in a local coffee shop yesterday, as I like to do. And I ran into some this guy that I sort of know, but haven’t had the chance to really put in the “friend” category in my brain. You know what I’m talking about, right? Anyways, this guy tells me about his roommate. And his roommate is the kind of guy that is always trying to learn new things, he’s always going to some seminar, or reading a new book on this subject or another.

And he was telling me how is roommate went to this really interesting seminar in some kind of esoteric philosophy, kind of like metaphysics, I guess. And there was a guest speaker at the seminar, and he really didn’t do much speaking, because for most of his allotted time he had them watch a video tape with this Indian guru. Which is strange in and of itself, because nowadays, most people simply use DVDs to watch videos, instead of tapes.

So anyways, this guy said that the secret to being able to get what you want in life is related to how well you can give yourself approval. He was saying that behind most desires are a hidden need to receive approval from other people.  He said that it relates somehow to growing up, and internalizing some of those messages that we received from our parents. Kind of like the guy with the anchor, sometimes something is good to hold onto, and sometimes you should just let go.

Now I’m not going to tell you to automatically believe this stuff about releasing the need for approval from others, because I think it’s important for you to discover that on your own. And while some people tell me that they think the need for approval is based on genetic programming rather than conditioning, I think it’s clear that people who have been able to operate independently from the need for approval from others will tell you differently.

And you are probably already aware of the fact that when you remember those times when you did things without waiting for permission or approval from others, you were able to feel more freedom to experience the situation. Like sometimes when you were able to detach from the outcome, whatever it was, and just focus on the experience, you can remember having a great time.

And this might not be entirely relevant to you, but when you do release any need for approval from others, you might find that you get more approval than you’d ever hoped to receieve had that been your outcome in the first place.

But it did sound like an interesting seminar that he went to, and I never did find out if he got a copy of the tape that they watched, as he left before I got a chance to ask him. Seems he was in a hurry to meet somebody about something, and he was just stopping by to pick up a latte for the road.

You are probably already aware of the fact that many people have decided that the more they expose themselves to mind expanding ideas, like articles on this site, the easier it is for them to find new ways to get what they want out of life.


Can You Let Go?

That man was scared. He had won the cruise in a company raffle. His wife couldn’t go, because she was needed at her work, and couldn’t find a replacement. She told him to go alone, even though he refused. It had been a long time since he’d had a vacation. “Go and have fun! You deserve it!” She said. Finally after much consideration, he decided, what the heck. You only live once. And it was only a three day, two night cruise along the Mexican Riviera.

But now he was wishing he could go back in time. Now he was wishing that his wife had not been so understanding. Now he’d wished somebody else won the stupid raffle.

The storm was horrible. Pitching back and forth. The lines holding the life rafts had snapped. Half of the people waiting to board the life rafts had washed overboard already. He was sure he’d be next.

The boat lurched, he was pitched forward, tumbling out of control. He reached out for something to hold on to, something to grab. Too wet. Too slippery. He knew he was going to die. Finally his hand rested on something cold, metal. He grabbed it with all his might. His hands slipped down the end of the chain, and found the anchor at the end, which had been thrown from its holding place on the deck of the ship.

He gripped the anger with all his might, wrapping both arms around, both legs. “Please God, I don’t want to die.”

He held fast to the anchor. He saw more and more people being thrown overboard. “Please God, not me,” he prayed. After several minutes he thought he may actually have a chance. Another five, another ten, he was sure he would live. As long as he held fast to his anchor. As long as he didn’t let go. He began to cradle the anchor, began to think of it as a friend, a savior. “Thanks, buddy,” he whispered to it.

The boat lurched. The anchor flew, so did the man. They both hit the water, he didn’t let go of the anchor. It was still his only hope. The chain loosed and the anchor started to slowly sink.  Surely the anchor wouldn’t let him down, would it? The anchor sank deeper and deeper, the poor man still clinging to it, not knowing what to do. It helped him before right? It wouldn’t be right to just let go, would it?

The anchor finally came to rest on the bottom. The man’s arms now lifelessly held fast to the anchor. The man, unable to let go, was dead.

What are you holding on to?


Use Your Dreams to Beat Stress and Say Goodbye To Anxiety

This article is first in a series on dream interpretation.  If you haven’t yet, please consider reading the article on how to remember your dreams so you can easily maximize your benefits from this article.

The first, and most common type of dream is referred to as ‘Release’ dreams. These are dreams where you are drifting through them and there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to what is going on. These are the most important, and can be the most helpful kind of dream. As you go through the day, you worry about this, stress about that, and create all kinds of emotional worry that doesn’t really offer you much benefit. When you sleep, your brain scans through you recent memory and decides what’s important, and what isn’t. According to Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick, the reason these kind of dreams can seem so chaotic is due to the physical matrix structure of the brain. You might have a memory about your neighbors dog which happens to be physically right next door to a memory of something your third grade teacher said. Your brain will decide that both those memories might be taking up valuable space in your brain, so they might get fired off at the same time. As a result, you have a dream about being in third grade, and your neighbors dog is yelling at you for not understand long division.

Because these are the most common, they are naturally the most useful. Simply because your brain is telling you what not to worry about. If you brain has decided you don’t need to worry about something, why should you, right?

One good way to handle these dreams is to pay attention to the images that you remember upon awakening. What do they remind you of?  How do those things make you feel? And what do those things remind you of? It’s important to ask yourselves these questions when you are still in the groggy waking up state while you are still blinking the sleep out of your eyes. It might not be natural at first, but as you practice this, you will get better.  The key here is to accept whatever images come up in those first few moments. These are the things that your brain has decided are not important enough to worry about. So whatever images and feelings associated with those images come up, simply choose to release them.  And if you happen to think about them later in the day, just remind yourself that your brain already decided that you don’t need to worry about those things any more, because they have already been taken care of. You can choose to free up your thoughts to think about better things that will help you to get what you want out of life.

And when you decide to release your anxiety about things that are no longer important, you will notice that you will naturally decrease your stress. And when you do that you will start to notice less and less anxiety, which will lead to you not only to improve your physical health but to improve your mental health as well.

And all it will cost you is a few minutes of focused releasing every moring. You can do that, right?

Please be sure to check back often, because as most people are starting to realize, the more you improve yourself everyday, the happier you will become.  And one good way to do that is to share this with others.