I’ve spent the better part of my life finding cracks in the bubble of the dominant paradigm and slipping through them into the world beyond. Doing this has meant I have had to become aware of my own thinking. Not the contents of my thought, but the mechanisms of the process. It’s a tricky thing to do.
Because attempting to think outside the dominant paradigm has obvious roadblocks. Language, for one.
Our language absolutely reflects the disembodied philosophy that permeates our culture. The symbols themselves, the letters, have no meaning other than their phonetic value. Where a Chinese character represents something, waves, a tree, and places the reader with their world, the English language is fundamentally devoid of any connection to anything until we combine letters to make words that mean something.
So to use current language to convey wholeness and connection is quite a conundrum and nearly impossible. And since the language we use largely informs how we think, well, you can see the problem.
Another problem of being outside the dominant paradigm is that ideas are largely built on the invisible scaffolding of presumptions about how the world works. Presumptions that are challenged rarely from the perspective of their fundamental veracity, but in the way the veracity is conveyed, its nuances.
For example, in personal growth humans largely operate from a perspective that generally agrees with the fundamental veracity of “mind”. Psychology and spirituality both use this term mostly in different ways but the notion of mind itself is a given. Mind being something that “exists”. And the way that mind exists is not generally assumed as an integrated aspect of the whole but, rather, a separate thing. It’s why psychology does not use nutrition and exercise, body postures and breathing techniques, to affect changes in the mind – if psychology fundamentally believed that the mind and body are not, in fact, separate, this would be reflected in the modalities that are employed.
As far as imagining goes, I like it very much when exploring efficiency and effectiveness. I’m a big fan of what is most effective and efficient.
For example, a client comes in who has been examining themselves, doing their “work”, to achieve personal growth in a way they find meaningful – using it as a tool to be healthier or happier in some way.
After working with a few hundred people who are on this path, I started to get really dubious about this notion of “mind” being the right way to go about things. And, in fact, started to see how it really mucked things up and actually got in the way of the progress my clients were seeking.
So I started to look for alternate routes – started to imagine, to wonder, what other ways might there be? What might be more effective? More efficient?
Well, this has been going on for so long that I’ve come up with a number of very different approaches that seem to be faster and more effective than the dominant paradigm would allow for.
And I have been doing it for so long that I began to imagine not just tweaking what is already there, not just exploiting the cracks, but have been building an entirely different universe than the one the majority of us currently occupy.
Why do we have to live with what has been given to us? Psychology used to not exist and yet we act now as if it is an absolute and take for granted that it is truth.
But it is only truth in one universe. And the problem with not imagining is that we then allow this one way, this one small fragment of an otherwise dimensional reality, to become most of our reality and then operate from it that we wind-up obstructing whatever progress we are seeking without realizing we are doing it because some progress is being made but most of us have no idea that it is painfully slow compared to what’s possible!
Just the lens of psychology alone results in:
a) Assuming there is a problem
b) Thinking that fixing the problem is the solution
Can you imagine another way? Can you imagine 15 other ways?
Many people choose spirituality as an alternate route to psychology. The problem is that spirituality is usually based on the same underlying presumptions that psychology is – mainly that the body, mind, and spirit are separate. And the mechanism for the process is the same employed in the psychological approach: assume there is a problem and assume that fixing the problem is the solution.
An example of an alternative might be:
a) Assume there is something right that isn’t being nourished
b) Figure out the best way to nourish it
There are so many assumptions that we live by and many of them don’t result in us feeling good and, in fact, make life very much like swimming upstream.
Imagine it’s all negotiable. Imagine that the things you assume are true aren’t actually “true”. I don’t mean whether there is gravity or not. I mean things like “mind” and things like sharing from your heart with someone at work (“I can’t do that!”).
The truth is that life is much more malleable and up for change than most imagine.
What do you want your life to be? What beliefs and assumptions actually hinder your flow? What “rules” are you following that make things harder for you?
What do you assume about how it is okay to help?
What do you assume about how it is okay to love?
What do you assume about you being composed of different parts?
What do you assume about how much you can physically express yourself?
What do you assume about good/bad?
What do you assume about the role the body plays, or not, in your outlook on life?
What do you assume about healing?
What do you assume about growth?
When we make the assumption that the things we have thought of as truth are just one version of it, we are then free to begin to imagine upgrades to how we currently live.
Much of my work with people is prying them free from the gravity of assumptions. We are so enmeshed in so many notions parading around as truths that our lives are stiff and progress is slow.
There is absolutely no reason for you to work on an issue longer than a few months. The real problem is not the issue, it is the beliefs surrounding the issue, the limiting assumptions you are living in that prevent being able to even see the doorway out of the issue.
An example: when I tell a client that their anxiety is physically based, say a magnesium deficiency coupled with coffee consumption, they will fight me on it with disbelief. It has to be psychological! “It’s my thoughts, not my body! I have issues!” So I explain, earn their trust, sometimes ask them to just give it a shot.
When in a few of weeks they are all “better” they still cannot believe that it “worked”. The invisible assumption of Body/Mind/Spirit being separate things actually antagonizes not only their healing but the ability of other professionals to more quickly and effectively help them because they are going through the psychology door! (or the New Age door of changing your thoughts).
I am absolutely not saying that many of the approaches we have developed are not useful or, indeed, effective.
What I am saying is that when we do not imagine “What else? How else?” then we inevitably use tools that may not be the best for the job at hand.
It is not a matter of the tools being the technique we use. Because, as I pointed out earlier, the techniques are very often just variations on a theme of limited assumptions. (Affirmations are one such variation on the technique of “mind”)
We must develop our ability to imagine. To imagine outside the world of separation we currently operate from. And this means we need to begin to even see what is currently invisible to most of us.
Start by assuming connection. Whenever you feel conflict, assume connection. Whenever you feel antagonized, assume connection. Whenever you want to express joy, assume connection. Whenever you want to celebrate, assume connection.
The assumption of disconnection is one of the most insidious and permeating we live within. It shows up everywhere. So assume connection and notice what happens, inside and out.
Then begin to imagine. Play with imagining. Imagine big and outrageously – you just may find the doorway out of limitation.