Why Am I Not Getting It?

This week I got emailed the really good (and really common) question: why am I not getting it and how can I improve my chances of insight?

I wanted to share my response because there’s something all of us can see in this, whether we’re feeling mega stuck or like we just want to get out of our way more:

Hi lovely,
What a great question! I think a lot of people wonder this and I’m going to do a video on it for the new program (A Fresh Life) because it comes up so often!

Here’s how it looks to me: Most of us try to take in this understanding as we do subjects in school.

We try to remember the key points, take notes and compare/contrast it with what we already know… oftentimes we don’t even know we’re doing this because it’s simply how we were taught to learn.

But what keeps it from sinking in at a deeper level is we’re not listening to get impacted, we’re listening to learn it intellectually: as facts, information and concepts.

What I mean by listening to learn is that we’ve been taught to use our personal thinking to learn things.

Yet our personal thinking is the very thing that’s keeping us from deeply feeling the truth of who we are. The only thing that gets in the way of love, truth, beauty, aliveness, our true nature… is our personal thinking.

So we’re using our personal thinking (aka our intellect) to learn about our personal thinking (aka our intellect), and then wonder why can’t see beyond the intellect.

Can you see how that’s counterproductive?

It’s really not our fault… we were taught to think about everything even though thinking about everything is the worst way to learn anything.

Take young kids for example, they don’t know they’re supposed to “study” or “learn” or “remember” so they just go through life being curious and open and before you know it they’re talking, walking, creating, and fully engaging in life.

They learn like sponges, soaking up the world around them. They never took notes or stopped to think about what they’re learning or how to process the information.

As a result learning happens naturally by osmosis, by feeling, by the ‘click’ of common sense that’s built-in to all of us since day one.

As adults we forget how to listen and learn in this very natural way. So we try to listen and try to learn which is counterproductive. But for the trying it would naturally be happening without our input or effort.

Trying to learn is the main thing getting in the way of learning.

But for our trying to get it, or trying to learn it, or trying to have insights, or trying to let it sink it, it would just be sinking in, we would be having insights, we would just be getting it more and more.

So as counterintuitive as it seems, if you want to “get it” more, you have to stop trying to get it.

You have to hear the things you’re hearing and read the things you’re reading as though you’re listening to good music or reading a fiction novel: approach it full of fascination and curiosity instead of analyzing and thinking.

The actual timing of insights is totally out of our control, you cannot make them happen but fortunately you don’t need to: they’re built-in to the system and bound to happen when we get out of the way.

So if you’re trying to “get it”, give yourself a huge break and then another, even bigger break for good measure. Give yourself the biggest break you’re humanly capable of.

There’s nothing to get. There’s nothing to see.

It’s a paradox because everything you’re looking for is already within you. When you give up trying to “get it” and can be content without it, it tends to show up right before your very nose 🙂

Lots of love xx

Shannon

The Future You Think

The thing with thought is it’s tricky… And sneaky… And convinces us it’s reflective of reality when in fact it’s the projector, not the camera.

So when our thoughts tell us future predictions, they rarely look like random predictions. They look like what just is going to happen, give or taken a little bit of unpredictability.

But holy moly there’s so many assumptions hidden in our future thinking.

Assumptions like…

We know what kind of person we are (and we’ve always been like this).

We know what we like or dislike (obviously).

We know what we’re capable of.

We know what we’re not capable of (thanks, past).

We know what’s hard, uncomfortable, unpleasant, undesirable for us (never going there again).

We know what’s easy, natural, effortless for us (and therefore should stick to that).

We know what other people will do and say, so that needs to be taken into account.

We know what’s safe and reasonable and rational and going against that is just asking for trouble.

Etc, etc, etc… there’s no end to all the hidden assumptions that don’t look like thought, they look like reality.

And then we wonder… where did the joy in life go? Where is the zest? The aliveness? The bliss? The wonder? The mystery? The magic? The fun? The adventure?

The good news is that it’s all already here. Seriously, right here. The bad news is we rarely see it because we have a head so full of thought that doesn’t look like thought.

Just underneath the ideas, assumptions, predictions, and predictability we put on our future is the natural joy of life. The natural mystery. The natural fun.

The future is unknown. We all know that. But what’s really cool to see is it’s just a blank slate waiting to be created. Waiting to be lived. Waiting to be discovered.

If nothing you thought about your future was true, what would you love to do with your precious time here on earth?

That’s the question I’m reflecting on lately and I encourage you to do the same.

If nothing you thought was reality, it just just appeared as reality because that’s the nature of the human experience, would would you love to do with your precious time and energy?

The Life Changing Magic

I rarely binge books anymore. I like to savour them like fine chocolate, enjoying bits and pieces here and there as treats.

But I heard a lot of talk about Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and once the book was delivered to my iPad my whole evening was consumed. I couldn’t stop reading because there was so much truth in what she was pointing to.

Yes, she’s talking about it in the context of our physical environment, our “stuff”, our surroundings, our belongings. But her mandate to only keep and cherish what “sparks joy” and discard the rest rang awfully familiar.

Although the wording is different, the essence she conveys by the feeling of joy is the deeper essence of our true nature.

It’s the default setting of peace and joy within us. It’s the rush of inspiration. It’s the feeling we have no words for but all we know is “yes. this.”

That feeling that she’s pointing to is the essence behind life. The energy of being alive. Love. Joy. Bliss.

I teach clients that the beautiful thing about our feelings is that they serve as a reliable guide for what we should discard and what it’s nice to “keep”.

Your mind’s telling you you suck, no one likes you, you’re a loser and you’ll die alone? Discard.

Your mind’s playing up scary “what if” scenarios, trying to convince you to control life and telling you to fear life? Discard.

Your mind’s telling you your partner doesn’t find you attractive, you need to buy nicer clothes and do fancy things to impress them? Discard.

Your mind’s telling you you suck at writing blog posts, criticizing your abilities and making you doubt your deepest desires? Discard.

You feel the rush of inspiration, the joy of the present moment, or the love that naturally exists within you? Keep. Cherish. Enjoy.

Can it be that simple?

I think what hooked me so deeply about the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (even though I have yet to put my house in order) is that I recognized the truth in it.

The truth that yes, it really can be that simple.

What Just Is & Why That Matters

I wanted to share a metaphor that came to me out of the blue (as the best things do) while on a call with someone recently.

As a three principles coach and teacher, I sometimes get asked “how can the principles help with x” or “I’m not seeing results with the techniques/strategies I’m currently trying, how is this different?”

The beautiful thing about this conversation is it rests on (or more accurately, under) a deeper level than whatever technique, method or concept they’re contrasting it with.

It’s the difference between comparing forms at the level of form versus stepping back and looking at that which creates form.

I know that this conversation is unique and impactful because it’s looking in the direction of universal truths.

No dogma, no tools, no how-tos, no beliefs, no blueprints, no steps, no strategies…

I’m not interested in giving people more helpful ways of thinking about things. I’m not interested in redirecting or reframing their thinking. I’m not interested in switching their oranges for kiwis.

I’m interested in showing them the buffet and introducing them to the kitchen.

Imagine there are these beautiful mountains sitting in the wilderness.

These mountains have existed since before we were born. They’ve always been there, solid, stable, permanent… they just haven’t always been visible to us.

One day you’re on a hiking trip in the forest and you catch a glimpse of them between the trees. You keep walking towards them until you reach the edge of the forest and stand on the shore gazing in wonderment at these mountains.

These mountains don’t care what you do with their discovery. They don’t care if you know about them. They don’t care if you worship them. They don’t care if you tell others about them. They don’t care how often you see them, what your opinion of them is, or how they fit into your life.

They simply are.

Every person who views them will describe them differently. They’ll use different language. They’ll have different views depending on where they’re standing in relation to them (literally and metaphorically).

Everyone will have a different relationship to them.

Everything from not knowing they even exist to thinking they’re the most beautiful things they’ve ever come across to being completely indifferent to them.

And yet, they simply are.

Our relationship to them is our relationship to them; it impacts us to see what’s always been there, always been true, always been in existence.

But our knowing of what’s there doesn’t change what was always there, it simply changes our knowing.

What’s there is just what’s there. Truly, it’s not about us.

Gravity is because gravity is. Gravity’s pull doesn’t depend on our “discovering”, “naming”, “theorizing”, “analyzing”, “studying” or “mathematically quantifying” in order for it to be true.

The principles are because the principles are.

This is why I find it hard to answer the “how does this compare to the Linden method?” type questions, because one is looking at an apple (the form) and the other is looking at how apple trees grow to produce apples (the formless constant behind life).

And when people ask me “how will the principles help my anxiety/conflict/drinking/weight-loss/health/depression/work-life balance/creativity/stress/relationship/performance/sleep, etc, etc… I have one simple answer.

No matter what people are up against, humans do really well when they understand how something works, and really poorly when they don’t.

The principles are simply a description of the everlasting, impersonal, universal forces that operate human beings.

They simply are, and seeing what simply is tends to be profoundly impactful for human beings. It’s as simple as that.

The Effortlessness of the Design

One of the things that drew me to teaching and sharing this understanding is I could see how different this was from everything else.

Everything I had come across prior or since has been focused on doing. There was always something to practice, affirm, remember, find, solve, fix, manage, control, change, adjust, uncover, investigate, do, be or have.

And when I was introduced to the principles I teach, share and coach from, it was obvious that none of that was necessary.

Instead of effort and having to do something to feel better, do better or have a nicer life, I saw how truly effortlessly we’re designed.

New ideas, solutions, perspectives, fresh thinking comes to us automatically.

Without having to do a single thing.

Insights, understanding and transformation are built-in to the system.

They’ve been happening since you were born and will continue to unfold throughout your lifetime. They’re what allowed you to learn how to speak, write, read, cook, drive, and a million other things.

Your mental health and well-being is a given, a default setting no one can be without.

It’s not the result of achievement, striving, effort, or anything else we think is a pre-requisite.

You already have it all. You already ARE it all. 

Clarity, love, peace, joy, creativity, calm, resilience, well-being… it’s all already yours.

Job done.

Effortlessly. Easily. With nothing you need to do to earn it.

If you’re not feeling that in this moment it’s perfectly okay, no human lives in the feeling of their true nature 24/7.

But dropping into that feeling is natural and effortless. So full permission to just relax. Give up. Stop trying. Stop seeking. Stop striving. Chill. Enjoy. Be.

The effortlessness of the design is already working perfectly.

On The Benefit of the Doubt

How easy it is to assume we know why people do what they do.

We see an action or hear some words, our minds tell a story, and instantly we assume we know what’s what.

But this trips us up more than we know. Because what we’re actually seeing when we’re looking at someone isn’t coming from their intent, motive or backstory.

It’s coming from our thinking in the moment, always.

So really what we’re seeing is our own projection, our own reality, our own ideas… we’re not seeing people as they are, we’re seeing them as we are.

Which is why giving people the benefit of the doubt is so crucial. We’re never perceiving them as these solid, stable objects with clear cut motives… that’s just the story our mind is telling.

I saw this so clearly at a holiday party last night.

So many people, some I loved, some I didn’t understand, some I was annoyed by, some I was grateful to reconnect with.

But none of that was coming from them, all of it was coming from my mind and how I’m relating to it in the moment.

The person who annoyed me is someone my mind is playing a story of annoyance and injustice about and I’m buying into it hook line and sinker.

The people I loved were people I was seeing with innocence and purity. I naturally gave them the benefit of the doubt, I didn’t indulge my mind if and when it tried to assign meaning behind their actions.

The people I didn’t understand were people I tried to see with interest and curiosity. I was less interested in what my mind said about them and more interested in what I can see if I show up fresh: what’s there when I’m in this moment, not in my thinking about this moment?

The people I was grateful to reconnect were simply people who I saw beauty and goodness in. I relaxed into the moment with them and was grateful for the natural connection between us when we’re not indulging our personal thinking.

I definitely don’t always give people the benefit of the doubt. I get caught up in my stories, convinced by the grand illusion of consciousness and bought into my ideas at times.

It’s totally human, normal and nothing to beat ourselves up about!

But the beauty of life is found in being in life, not in our minds.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt, going back to the freshness of the unknown and being willing to be wrong about our assumptions, ideas and beliefs about someone is where freedom is found.

Freedom to discover something new.

Freedom to experience life fresh.

Freedom to be in the moment instead of thinking about it.

That’s something we can all benefit from.

On the Mystery of Wisdom

Wisdom: A word often used to describe the innate intelligence of all living things, including us.

Human beings generally don’t like not knowing things. We don’t do well with uncertainty, surprise or the unknown.

So often when I discuss the truth that we are made of wisdom, people want to know what wisdom will say.

How will it show up?

What will it have me do?

What solution will it come up with?

What new thinking will I have?

How will I see things differently?

What will occur to me?

And the truth is: I don’t know.

I know wisdom is within all of us; it’s the very essence of our being. It’s wisdom that’s beating our hearts, breathing our lungs and dividing our cells.

It’s wisdom that’s moving experience through us, and giving us something new and fresh in each moment.

But the form it’ll take? We have absolutely no clue.

It’s a bit like signing up for a mailing list. We know we’ll get something on the related topic: if we’re signing up for a culinary list we’ll get recipes. If we’re signing up for a yoga list we’ll get yoga practices. If we’re signing up for a music list we’ll get recently released songs.

But the form it’ll take? No clue. The recipe, the song, the practice… it’s completely unknown.

But we know we’ll get something.

If we can relax into the certainty that something will show up: a new solution, thought, perspective, idea, or action…

Then we can stop concerning ourself with the who, what, when, how of it and relax into our lives more.

We don’t have to sign up to the “wisdom” mailing list. It’s automatically set on “deliver indefinitely” when we’re born.

So we either understand that it’s inherently unknown yet reliable.

Or we think we should know it and drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out what will be sent and when.

Or we think it’s not reliable and stress ourselves out over what will be sent and when.

Both become unnecessary when we see that wisdom is 100% reliable but 98% unpredictable, as my mentor Michael Neill likes to say.

We don’t know what we’ll get, but we can relax into the fact that we’ll get something, we simply can’t not.