by Annika Hurwitt | Mar 8, 2016 | Article, challenges, Leadership, Mental Clarity, State of Mind, well being
I’ve been coaching two sisters who have started their own business, helping the elderly stay in their homes. When we started, they described their lives as hectic and stressed. After learning about the Single Paradigm, they began to see big changes in themselves and in their business. “We were working seven days a week, sometimes 12 hour days. We were hiring caregivers and doing some of the home-care ourselves. We were in a state of constant stress. We over-analyzed and worried about every decision we had to make. We were on automatic pilot, and it felt like we were headed for a crash.
“When we learned about the Single Paradigm so much unnecessary thinking fell away. It was almost spooky at first to experience that mental quiet. But then so many benefits followed. We no longer over think things. When we had to fire a caregiver recently, we were able to do so easily and with grace, instead of agonizing over it as we would have in the past. And we were able to talk with her in a way that seemed to bring out the best in her – she owned up to what she’d done and we parted on good terms.
“Our business is growing so quickly now our main challenge is keeping up with all the growth. We’re starting to meet our financial goals. And the best part is, we’re having fun doing it!”
When unnecessary thinking gets subtracted from your day-to-day, moment-by moment experience of life, it frees your mind to work as nature intended – with mental clarity, and the capacity to respond well to work and life challenges. It’s all so much easier when you have a clear mind.
by Annika Hurwitt | Jul 5, 2013 | Article, challenges, Communication, decision-making, High-Performance, Leadership, Mental Clarity, Optimism, Relationships, Spirituality, State of Mind, Three Principles, well being
Optimism matters. We want to feel optimistic, that all’s right with the world, that whatever challenges we face, there is hope. When we are in an optimistic state of mind, we have a sense of being carried by life, by something that we can’t quite name or put our finger on; something that not only feels great but that we intuitively know will give us the resources we need to meet life’s challenges.Those of us familiar with the principle-based understanding of life would call that something ‘Mind’ – a formless energy that has a deeper intelligence that informs everything there is.
When our minds are calm and quiet, we’re in touch with that intangible something, and we know it by the feeling – feelings of love, joy, well-being, gratitude – to name a few. That mental quiet is the empty space between thoughts. When we have a thought and a feeling and the thought clears itself, we visit that mental spaciousness regularly. This is true of children, before the onset of mental habits, and of adults who have gained an understanding of the three principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, and how they reveal the inside-out nature of life.
One of my clients, a successful real estate developer named Gary, is learning about this understanding. It’s been helpful, but he still loses touch with it sometimes and gets caught up in the illusion of thought when the going gets tough (don’t we all). This happened recently when an issue came up in his marriage that he has a lot of difficulty with. After he discussed it with me, I asked Gary if he had remembered that the feelings he was having were coming from thoughts in that moment. “No,” he said, “I couldn’t. I was too caught up in trying to fix the problem. I felt like I had to do that before I could do anything else.”
This is a common mistake so many of us make. When we get caught in the illusion of our thinking we feel like we have to fix whatever the perceived problem is before we can attend to matters like our state of mind. But those are the times when we need our mental bearings most. This is why our heads clear when we’re in a really big crisis – a fire or an accident, for example. Many people report that in these situations they were surprised to find themselves in a flow of thoughts that showed them exactly what to do. I assume that nature designed it this way to ensure the survival of our species – if our minds were muddied with a lot thinking in a crisis our chances of surviving would greatly decrease.
The understanding of the inside-out nature of life gives us that lifeline on a moment-by-moment basis as we go through our day. As long as we know that there is only one place to look – our feelings – and their source – Thought- (and its source – Mind!) our awareness of our feeling states grows. As it does, and we remember its source, much of our unnecessary and unproductive thinking withers on the vine. Saying that you can’t remember about your state of mind until you’ve fixed your problem is like someone who cried out in their sleep and, when their friend tried to wake them, said, ‘I can’t wake up until I’ve killed the monster who is chasing me!’
Optimism is a natural state of mind that is really our default setting. It’s what our minds return to when thoughts clear themselves and settle on a regular basis, as they do when we are in our mental well being. From there, getting good ideas to meet life’s challenges is a no-brainer!
by Annika Hurwitt | Aug 31, 2009 | Article, challenges, Optimism, State of Mind
Here’s a report from a client who was really struggling with challenges from the economic downturn, and then turned the whole thing around:
I’ve been going through a very challenging period – probably the hardest time of my life. The economic downturn hit me and my family hard. I’m having to move out of the dreamhouse I just spent a year building, and re-locate, as there’s no work where I live at this time. I’ve been feeling really bad and so tired of feeling bad and wanting to know why I was feeling so bad. I felt insecure, and I had self pity about my own insecurity.
No wonder I was feeling that way – I was letting the external determine how I was feeling internally. And no wonder I was feeling bad, because my circumstances were really difficult, & I was making them even more difficult with the way I was responding to them. And then it just dawned on me. It was as if my wisdom was trying to get through to me the whole time, but I was jamming it with my own insecurity. It suddenly dawned on me that the inner creates the outer & I had the whole thing upside down; I was letting the outer affect my inner life. When the impact of that insight hit me it was as if everything stopped – all my insecure thinking, all my anxiety, my working on my agendas – and I felt this incredible sense of relief.
A sense of clearness and cleanness opened before me. I could see that it was a beautiful day, and that I was in a beautiful place, and that I might be in the middle of challenging circumstances but I didn’t need to let that run my entire emotional life. It was as if I became changed from an insane person to a sane person. The insane person was running & running, chasing its own thoughts, & then the sane person was totally content with the present that I felt . It changed my whole perspective .
It Happened Again. Later that day, my thoughts started getting funky & I started to feel insecure & anxious again. Then I realized that this is what I do – I get tired & hungry and chase my insecure thoughts around . So I ate something, and reflected on the insight I had earlier about how the inner affects the outer. I started asking myself for more clarity on that experience – how can my inner reach the outer – & I had this incredible experience of peace that came over me, and satisfaction, and a very simple gratitude, and I felt myself in my body – I felt my toes, and the fibers of the muscles in my legs – things I’m not normally aware of. This presence brought all my different faculties into the moment. I was experiencing the divine intelligence of life within. To me it came like a feeling of the long lost beloved – we spend so much time seeking things externally, and then when we get something internally, it’s like the answer to the ultimate question, whatever that is. I hear people say when you get really deep you can’t be alone because you have this experience of god in your body. And I’ve had thoughts like that but I’ve also experienced being alone, or lonely. This experience was so rich I was completely not lonely for the first time in my life. Even though I was alone I had this great satisfaction and wasn’t lonely.
I just have to remember that this is the most important thing in life, that the challenge of having to live with bills is no comparison to this experience of the inner life.
by Annika Hurwitt | Jul 18, 2009 | Article, challenges, Couples
When Brian and Mary came for their couples’ intensive, they were on the verge of a divorce. They had been married for 30 years and had 4 kids who were now all leaving the nest. When I interviewed them before their intensive, he said he felt they just needed to spend some time together now that the kids were gone and get close again. Mary, on the other hand, was clear that this intensive was their last shot at staying together. “We’ve been having problems for 20 of our 30 years together. We’ve been seeing a marriage counselor, and she has recommended divorce at this point. I’m not really sure why we’re coming to you, but I’ve heard that sometimes this works when nothing else can.”
After working with Brian and Mary individually at first, it became clear that they both had habits of Thought that were getting in their way. On his part, Brian thought he was unattractive. When he felt Mary was distant, it confirmed this belief, and then he would feel insecure, frightened and lonely. His way of dealing with those feelings was to find women in need of financial help, whom he would befriend and help out financially for a period of time. Their need of him made him feel less lonely and unlovable.
Mary, on the other hand, had picked up the thought somewhere along the line that she was stupid, or that other people thought she was. Whenever she would find out about one of these women who were benefitting from Brian’s philanthropy, she would think, “What does he think, I’m stupid?” This thought is extremely upsetting to her; whenever she thought it, she would become cold and distant. When she was cold and distant, Brian would look for someone new to help to get some emotional connection and warmth. And so the cycle would continue, to the point that Mary was ready to divorce him.
As Mary began to understand the role that Thought plays in relationships, she settled down and began to see that her experience of being ‘stupid’ was coming from her, from her own thinking, not from Brian. This was a very big realization for her. She began to be less guarded around Brian, as she learned more and more about the principles and simply began enjoying the moment.
From my perspective, it was obvious that Brian adored his wife, and had tremendous respect for her. Her coldness made him insecure, and those insecure thoughts made him lose his bearings – he didn’t know what to do to re-connect with her. As Brian’s thoughts settled down, the wall of Thought he so often lived in, that he was unattractive, also loosened their hold on him.
Mary and Brian began to communicate with each other in sessions, without anger and defensiveness. They began to be able to have a dialogue, and even laugh about things. The turning point came when, at a break, Brian stood up, screwed up all his courage and said to Mary: “Would you like to spend the break with me?” Mary, taken aback by his forthright effort to connect with her, paused for a moment, then said “Yes! I would!” They began re-discovering what it meant to spend time together without all their old thought patterns, most of which had been invisible to them, running the show.
When Brian and Mary showed up for the last day of their intensive, they were tentatively a team once again. They had that sweetness you feel around people who are just getting to know each other and are a little shy about it. That newfound sense of connection grew and grew after they got home. Their fear and mistrust melted away as they began to re-experience their real connection with each other. It was as if those 20 years of alienation and distance melted away without a trace. This so often happens when people re-connect with their true natures. No matter how many years you may struggle, been depressed or anxious, or had trouble in your relationship, when you re-connect with your innate mental and spiritual health your inbuilt capacity for truth resurfaces, and all those years of struggle appear like the illusion they really were.
I check in with Brian and Mary at 6-month intervals, and at the two-year mark all they have to say is: “Very Happy!”
by Annika Hurwitt | Jun 22, 2009 | Article, challenges, Relationships
A woman, who I shall call Susan, came to me for counseling because she was having trouble with her 9 year old son, Eric. ‘I can’t get him to get out of bed in the morning. When he does get up, he’s slow to get dressed. He can’t seem to remember the order of his chores. He forgets his homework for school. He can’t even tie his shoes – he trips all over himself and can’t seem to get it right. I’ve tried everything – giving him a list, putting a timer on for every activity, taking away privileges – nothing seems to work. I’m beside myself!’
Listening to Susan, it was obvious that she had a lot of stress. She was agitated, talked fast and seemed easily upset. While her problems with her son weren’t monumental, she seemed consumed with worry and agitation about him. I wondered how much of her problems with Eric had to do with the mental stress she appeared to carry. I suggested to Susan that she bring Eric in with her for the next session.
When I met Eric, he was shy kind, and polite. We talked for a while, just getting to know each other, and then I asked him about the problems he had getting out of the house in the morning. His shoulders drooped and he looked down. He mumbled his responses to my questions, explaining that he tried to get everything done on time, but he just couldn’t seem to do it. He didn’t know why. ‘Do you do better once you get out of the house?’ I asked him. ‘Are you able to get to classes on time, get your work done in class?’ ‘Oh yes,’ he said, brightening a little as he thought about the rest of his day. ‘How about after school activities? How do they go?’ ‘Really well’, he said. ‘No problem.’ ‘ OK Eric, this is what I want to know. Does your mother make you nervous?’ There was a pause. ‘I’ve been observing your mother, and I can see she suffers from mental stress. Do you find that the way she talks to you makes it harder for you to get things done?’ ‘Well, yeah,’ he said, slowly and shyly. ‘I feel like it’s so important to get everything right for her that I do get nervous. She gets so upset when anything goes wrong.’
I reassured Eric that he was a very healthy boy, and that with a little help things would go better in the morning for him. His shoulders straightened again and the cloud on his face lifted. He was so relieved that I wasn’t adding my own opinions of everything he was doing wrong that it was like watching a flower that had drooped over from lack of water straightening up and reaching for the sun.
I worked with Susan after that. She began to see the relationship between her thoughts and her experiences in life. She tended to think in very stressful ways – pushing herself mentally all the time, trying to do more, go faster, and get everything right. She had the best intentions – she wanted to do well in life. But without a healthy mind set, the stress factor will build until everything becomes difficult. Susan’s mind wasn’t functioning in the way it’s designed to keep mentally healthy. Our minds have a natural reset button. They give us little prompts when we need to reset – time to take a break mentally from whatever you’re thinking about. That break can happen right where you are, or it may occur to you to go for walk, get a cup of tea, or do a different kind of activity that allows your mind to relax. If you watch children, they do this naturally – stop whatever they’re doing when it’s time for mental break and do something else. Adults do it too if they haven’t taught themselves to override those prompts. And that was Susan. She never allowed herself to get a break. She was constantly wound up. Whenever she talked with her son, he felt that, and it affected him.
I worked with Susan until she began experiencing what it was like to have states of mind return that were calm and allowed her thoughts to flow. This is the same kind of mental state people access when do their favorite sport, or art form – a sense of ‘being in the groove,’ or ‘in the zone.’ It’s also what people experience on a less dramatic level when they simply allow their minds to reset and be calm as they go throughout their day. She began to reclaim these natural mental functions, and the quality of her life improved dramatically. In fact, she soon stopped mentioning her son in sessions and began to focus on her career – how to make it a truer reflection of the contribution she wanted to make. These kinds of creative, generative thoughts happen naturally to a mind not filled with stress.
I asked her to bring her son in for a follow-up session. He seemed different – more self confident and relaxed. I asked him how the mornings were going. Both Susan and Eric laughed as they talked about how easy the mornings were going now. No more trouble getting out of bed, doing his chores, remembering his homework or tying his shoes. Before, he had literally been tripping all over himself trying to please his mother. Now that she was more relaxed and happy, he was doing just fine.
We were able to end regular therapy sessions shortly thereafter. A year later, Eric is blossoming – doing very well both at home and at school. Susan checks in occasionally to get more coaching while she works her way out of the mental habits she innocently created that were causing her such problems in life. Her work had become more satisfying, and now she’s brining the gains she’s made to her relationship with her husband. Just as mental stress affects everything we do, so does mental health.