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Self Awareness - the Door to Healthy Change. Friday August 8, 2014

"Awareness is not a giver of solace - it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener." R K Greenleaf.

It is in the inner awakening and growing self awareness that we begin to meet the person that we truly are.

I once read that most people may never really have met the person who they themselves really are, because at every moment we identify ourselves either with our thoughts, our self image, or our feelings. The challenge is to find a way to get behind our thoughts, feelings, and self image, to find that real person able to take a long loving look at what really is. This for me is to become more fully self-aware. It is that Inscaping (inward) journey and not the easier one of Escaping (finding security and value in externals) that brings us face to face with ourselves.

We are sometimes encouraged to simply let our thoughts drift by and not to hold onto them, so that they affect our behaviour.

Suzy's great blog on Monday talked about allowing feelings 'to flow and pass' and I always had difficulty with this concept of 'letting go' until I read about the following method.

Imagine a river or stream. (I chose a river with boats and ships; you could choose a stream with leaves if that is more easy to visualise). You are sitting on the bank of this river or stream. where boats or leaves pass by.

While the water flows past your inner eye, I ask you to name each one of these 'vessels'.

For example, one of them could be called 'my anxiety about tonight' or 'my objections about my spouse', or 'I shouldn't have said that'.

Every judgement that you pass is one of these 'vessels'. Take time to give each one of them a name and then let it sail on.

For some, this can be a very challenging exercise, as through habit, we jump aboard one of these 'vessels' immediately and unknowingly, and as soon as we own a 'vessel' and identify with it, it picks up energy; the thoughts and feelings still being part of our identity. What we have to practice is the un-possessing, the letting go.

If I miss becoming self-aware of a boat and jump on, rather than let it go by after noticing it, they have the energy to head upstream and return again and again.

I also must not attempt to torpedo my boat! This is an exercise in non violence to ourselves - you are not allowed to hate yourself.

The point is to recognise things, to become more self-aware and to say 'That's not necessary, I don't need that,' and let it gently float on by.

If we learn to handle our own thoughts and feelings tenderly and lovingly through inscaping, then we'll be able to carry this compassion and mental health for ourselves into our external world.

A Moodscope member.

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Karen Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 6:44am

A beautiful yet practical log. Thank you les for this advice. My vessels are ducks. Little yellow plastic ones just bobbling along.

Anonymous Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 7:40am

Good morning everyone. Les, this is great, thank you. I do need to practice this and to have it presented in such a visual way makes it possible for me. Perhaps now I can learn self forgiveness rather than ruminating over my failings. Must remember no torpedoes... Love from the room above the garage.

Anonymous Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 7:56am

If anyone knows method to allowing past bad experiences to flow gently through your mind I would be grateful to remember is human but to handle is hard

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 8:21am

Thank you Les for this and thank you too Karen for the yellow plastic duckie image: I shall try to use this. Already I feel beter. I should have read this blog first before doing my score: it would have prevented all my buddies sending me worried emails as they doubtless will later this morning.
To anonymous above, I use Tapas Fleming's TAT method, which helps. No time to explain here as breakfast has to be prepared but it should be easy to look up. Best wishes to you.

Anonymous Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 8:47am

Thank you Les ~ your analogy so resonates for me. And Karen's Ducks.

Julia Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 9:28am

I am not sure if it is possible for me at any rate, to allow past bad experiences to "flow gently through my mind". They come into my mind at odd times and I feel anger and then try to forget about them. I don't think the words "bad experiences" and "flow gently" are meant to be together. I also think it's OK to feel angry about past horrible experiences and deal with them that way but always remember they are in the past and only the memory (which isn't always accurate) can affect you now. I am sorry you are finding it hard to handle these things but you are not alone and maybe we should give up trying to handle them sensibly and rationally. Just go for it. The sadness and regret will go away much faster this way than if you let them "flow gently through your mind" They never will (in my opinion!). Interesting issue you have raised though.

Anonymous Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 10:04am

Oh what a lovely post! I will try it tonight. Thank you, Les! susan

Anonymous Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 11:38am

Thanks Les. I like the leaf on the stream. I'd want to be boating!
I also like clouds floating by: light & fluffy or dark & threatening. Either way, passing by.
I have been practicing mindful awareness with chronic pain lately. Imagining the clouds works there. The cloud can be the shape and color of the pain. As I let go of the stress in my body, the intensity of the colour of the shape of the cloud changes too as it passes from view.
Good to practice for 10 or 20, even 30 minutes a day.
Pittsburgh PA

Anonymous Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 12:15pm

I started using Moodscope 3 years ago, but it sometimes feels I’ve known it forever. Moodscope is part of my life, it is a constant that I don’t want to give up and that keeps me not to derail.
So 3 years ago I got through an ugly breakup, from a long relationship that I thought defined my life and also thought would last forever. Then, loneliness and money problems got me even worse and I could see no exit. I got into a bad depression and I often was thinking I didn’t want to live anymore. I discovered Moodscope while looking for a solution to ease my soul pains and, as I later understood, I got the right solution which always appears when you’re in trouble but hope for better. I was using Moodscope every day, and during a whole year, it was the best support one could get. I learned a lot about myself while using it. Flipping the cards and searching my soul calmed my mental and emotional states. I got better because of Moodscope! My all-time low is 17%. My all-time high is 91%. Can you see the difference? Of course, like all people, when they feel they are healed, they don’t really follow up on the “treatment” :) I stopped flipping the cards, but I never, ever stopped reading the daily encouragement messages. They are my go-to place whenever I feel a bit down and I enjoy so much reading from othe people’s experiences of dealing with depression. Having gone through it and survived, I feel stronger and confident that if I ever meet this “dark enemy”, as I call it, I will be able to know how to deal with it. I won’t like it, but I know that if ever depression hits me again in this life, I will beat it. It does help to have a friend on the way though :) and I know Moodscope is always there waiting for me.

julie Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 12:45pm

Dear Anonymous
Vipassana Meditation (S N Goenka). The focus is sensations on the body and developing insight into the relationship between mind and body and why we suffer as humans.

Caroline Ashcroft Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 7:05pm

Hi Anonymous 12.15pm, it's great to read how Moodscope has helped you. Makes it all worthwhile. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 7:38pm

Thank you for articulating that clearly; the visuals are helpful too!

Connor Raus Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 8:12pm

"Everything is gained as everything is given up."

Thanks for your inspiring post.

Melanie Lowndes Fri, Aug 8th 2014 @ 8:32pm

Thank you for a wonderful post Les. I also liked Anonymous' post - I read the posts every day and they are very much part of my life. Thank you Moodscope!

Les Sat, Aug 9th 2014 @ 10:09am

Love the ducks - BRILL - great image Karen

Les Sat, Aug 9th 2014 @ 10:14am

The key thing is to envision what you want to 'move towards' rather than focussing on what you want to 'move away from'.......ahead not behind.....and if you have a habit of looking back......its the habit you need to shift.

Also the key word you use is 'try' are already setting your mind that it can't be done. If you say I'm going to 'try' to do something over 90% of the time, you will not do it.

Maybe focus on changing the habit and not the thoughts....?

Les Sat, Aug 9th 2014 @ 10:18am

Interesting...........I suppose the clouds you cannot let go of can 'float' upwind while the rest go with the wind......and they could change colour or reduce in brightness as you start to 'let go'.........? Cool.........whatever works for you.

Les Sat, Aug 9th 2014 @ 10:20am

Lovely story............hope Caroline picks it up........

Les Sat, Aug 9th 2014 @ 10:21am

"To travel with the unawakened makes the journey long and hard and is as painful as travelling with an enemy. But the company of the wise is as pleasant as meeting with friends.

Follow the wise, the intelligent, and the awakened. Follow them as the moon follows the path of the stars." Dhammapada

Caroline Ashcroft Sat, Aug 9th 2014 @ 2:39pm

We have, great story. Thanks Les.

Anonymous Sat, Aug 9th 2014 @ 9:49pm

I used both the technique and the ducks with my eldest daughter this morning, with a great result. She told me I was fantastic and, I'm ashamed to say, I didn't tell her it came from you guys!!! She's only 13 and I'm not yet ready to tell her about me so I stayed quiet. Anyway, I thank you both. Ratg.

Les Sun, Aug 10th 2014 @ 1:01am that's a real win..............FAB.

I wonder when you will 'show weakness to gain strength' as part of your daughters true education.....RATG...??

Anonymous Mon, Aug 11th 2014 @ 3:09am

Hi Les, thanks for another wonderful post ! :-) - the 'letting go', and also 'ruminating' (over things I'd rather not ruminate or think about !) has been my mission (for want of a better word) for years now.. especially having lived with some 'blame' for apparently creating my illness myself (CFS, having no specific origin, is often assumed by many to be 'the fault of the person for being unable to 'live with life's stressors adequately') - difficult enough to live with CFS for 19 years, let alone with the perceived 'inadequateness' of ME ! :-( ... Anyway, I really liked your notion of the boats (I've used 'leaves on a stream' with less success, from "The Happiness Trap" by Russ Harris; and other strategies too ..) and especially your point of really looking at the 'thing' one is wanting to lessen the power of over oneself .. ie the thought about whatever the bad situation/thing is' ... as you put it on the boat and watch it drift down the stream. I used this specifically over this last weekend (with a difficult issue I've been struggling with for some time now - that goes round & round in my mind, a lot, ! with never any solution other than the ones I've already analysed a hundred times !! that do not create the peaceful resolution I need, well would very much most appreciate ! to this difficulty/problem..) .. Anyway, armed with your new approach, as well as using different things I've already incorporated into my life - this problem (that reared it's attractive but ultimately ugly for me ! head on Saturday ... there being my conundrum) I found that for some moments of time, I felt a peacefulness around this, that I've never felt before .... :-) ...
Also the 'moving toward' rather than 'escaping, moving away' from something, is a proposition that I like; I first read of it, in the form that made sense to me, by the Dalai Lama - and I really like the effect it can have on one's choice of actions .. realigning the focus onto a positive context, rather than in many 'self-help' chronicles I've read, where the desire to 'change oneself' becomes a negative force due to the self-criticism thus created by the logical extension of that notion: ie the 'non-worthiness' of us 'how we are right now' ... Which is unhelpful, in the extreme; I've found, anyway..
Phhheewww ... hope that all made sense :-)
Lynne (2nd post now :-) ...from Melbourne, Australia)

Les Mon, Aug 11th 2014 @ 8:57am

Hi Lynne

Fab that you can conceptualise as you have........and I can feel that 'phhhheewww'......

You obviously think a lot about can feel it in your comment, along with your 'mission' to stop ruminating.

You obviously have tried a number of strategies.....and I know when I am down, I flit from one to the other without success, as I seek that inner peace.

My 'release', normally comes when I find something meaningful that I can 'move toward' and thus focus forward not ruminate backward.

Whatever that 'peace' that you felt, felt like, start to focus on the feeling and less on the thought. Get into your body and out of your head - go in and not 'up and out'.

I find Heartmath especially helpful to 'feel the feeling' and to teach my body how to 'let go'.

Maybe you've found your break in the clouds to start letting the sunshine through...?

Good luck

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