There is this strange behaviour that arises that still catches me off guard. Being a wheelchair user often makes me stand out in a crowd and I get that. I catch myself looking at others who use a cane, have a cast or walker. You know, looking but trying to look like you are not looking. I don’t think I am being nosy, I am just really curious. It’s kind of like the curiousity you’d have if you saw a rock star or famous actor. You just gotta look.
I was standing in line with a friend, waiting at a funeral home to pay my respects when the gentleman in front of me turned around and asked, “Can I sit on your lap?”
Really? At first, I feel myself wanting to give him the look. The, “you are weird,” look. Then, I take a breath and acknowledge that it’s just his reaction to something different; he’s being awkward because he feels uncomfortable with me in a wheelchair. You might be thinking no that’s not it, he’s just being friendly,..and maybe you’re right, but this is not the first time this has ever happened. I have had this request many times but I still can’t seem to get used to it. Let me ask you, how many times have people asked you to sit on your lap in the spirit of being friendly? I guess if I was at a bar I might be flattered but given the circumstances, I was slow to respond.
“If you must,” I replied. I certainly wouldn’t stop someone from plopping down on my lap if that was really what they needed, if they were about to faint or pass out but in this situation that didn’t seem to be the case.
That seemed to satisfy him until about 10 minutes later when he turned back around and asked, “Can I sit on your lap now?”
I am not sure I would ever ask to sit on a strangers lap. Maybe if Johnny Depp was behind me, I might ask, but even that might be a stretch. I mean, what do you say to that? “Sure?” “That would be wonderful?” Or do I say, “No?” That sounds like I am being rude. Whatever response I give to the request, it just never seems comfortable.
You know, I may use a wheelchair, but I don’t feel or do anything different than anyone else. It’s like wearing a pair of comfortable shoes, You use them to get around comfortably. In the rest of my life, I shower, get dressed, eat, drink coffee, go to work, watch T.V., swim, spend time with family. The wheelchair is not really on my radar 24/7. Famous people too live very regular lives. They get dressed and eat breakfast like the rest of us but when they are out in public or performing, they stand out.
Wow, it has just donned on me. Being in a wheelchair is kind of like being famous. They are just regular people having a unique experience, making them appear different and therefore people act differently around them.
You know what this means? I am living the life of a rock star! Who knew? All this time I thought I was handicapped and suddenly realized I’ve got celebrity status.
Think about it. I’ve got complete strangers propositioning me in public, I get reserved parking, dedicated entrances, I go to the front of the line at amusement parks and concerts.
Wow? This whole time I was thinking they were feeling sorry for me. Just think about it. I have so many more privileges than the average person.
I board planes first, have dedicated washrooms everywhere I go. People open doors for me, I have special entrances. People carry my bags,
I get Special seating. I never have to worry about reserving a seat, I have one, specifically designed for my comfort, everywhere I go. That guy in front of me, the one who asked to sit on my lap, was just pointing out the obvious. He wants to be like me and have the privilege to sit down in line too.
Isn’t that amazing. I just opened myself up to a new perspective and it’s like my whole world changed. Nothing outside of me changed, but how I see the outside has changed. It seems so obvious to me now, it was just staring me in the face.
This makes me think that maybe I should take a look at the rest of my life and see where else I’m judging people and life, seeing things only one way, one perspective of how things are. Maybe, things are good or even better than I thought. I just have to open myself up to it,… entertain a new perspective.
I can’t wait. I’m gonna have a blast riding around, smiling at my adoring fans and enjoying the special treatment.
Next time when a stranger asks to sit in my lap, I think I might just might say, “yes.” And I’ll be sure to have a pen handy in case he wants my autograph.
Recently a video was circulating the internet about a gentleman tryng to ride a backwards bike. When he turned the handlebars to the right, the front wheel turned left and when he turned the handlebars to the left, the front wheel turned to the right. As a result of this modification, he was unable to ride the bike and others had the same difficulty. (It should be noted that the gentleman was capable of riding a regular bike.)
What was so fascinating about this, was that the ingrained behaviour of riding a regular bike initially prevented the rider from learning a new way to behave or respond to a similar situation which was riding a different bike.
It took this gentleman weeks to learn to ride the backwards bike and he admitted that if he was distracted or lost focus he would immediately fall back into old habits and lose his balance.
This is an amazing example of how our subconscious dictates our responses by default making it challenging to change.
Most of the time, our subconsious allows us to perform multiple tasks, by default, so that we don’t have to focus on each specific task. This is incredibly helpful when driving a car, walking or sratching our nose.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we had to consiously decide about every response?Scratching our nose would become an all consuming activity. We would have to choose the finger, the arm it is attached to, calculate the height and angle of movement, place the finger strageically near the itch, place it gently on the skin, focus on bending the finger, then straightening out,….. and so on, just to satisfy an itch!
Our brain is amazing at taking in new experiences and filing them away into neat, condensed folders of similar design. Once we know how to scratch our nose, our brain generalizes, and we respond similarly to situations requiring the same need, like itching our knee or face.
The Subconscious as a Barrier
It can be difficult to make changes to our thinking, belief systems and behaviour when our mind generalizes our responses based on old, outdated programming. Those folders in our mind are made up of generaliztions created by previous experiences, from the time we were born. As adults, we react based on those generalizations, subconsciously, by default.
When your third grade teacher told you, “you’re not good at math,” that may have stuck with you, in your math folder, in your memories. Now as an adult you may find yourself avoiding having to deal with your personal finances, unaware as to why you hate doing it so much. Your subconscious may have generalized that math or working with numbers is related to that sickening feeling you got in third grade math class. It didn’t feel good so now, you avoid anything like mathematics, to avoid feeling bad. This outdated program, remains active and utilized by your subconscious mind even though you may be very competent dealing with numbers.
Subconscious vs Conscious Awareness
It is believed that 95% of the time we are responding subconsciously. In otherwords, we are acting and behaving based on learned behviours and belief systems acquired since birth, automatically. Only 5% of the time, we are consciously choosing for ourselves.
What does this mean if we want to change?
It means we have to
1. Implement strategies to introduce new desirable thoughts and behaviours,
2. Practice them and practice them some more.
3. Have enough experience with these new ideas, that they become our new default response.
Thats why, repeating affirmations 2x a day, for two weeks, doesn’t work. The new behaviour is not practiced enough, has not had enough emotional impact or experience to move into the old file.
For example, in order for the the third grade student to stop avoiding mathematical situations he would have to indulge in mathematical experiences over and over again, allowing him opportunities to gain confidence along the way creating a positive feeling (creating an emotional charge). When the third grader gets used to “feeling good” around math, chances are he will more likely recognize when the old habitual behaviour seeps in. Becoming aware when the old default behaviour creeps up, allows the individual to bring the experience to the conscious mind and therefore allowing for choice. A choice as to how they will respond. To avoid the mathematical situation or engage.
If you are getting frustrated about making a change, I want you to watch this video. I want you to appreciate the power of learned behaviour and beliefs and the steps it takes to change a deep seeded pattern. He didn’t just repeat a positive affirmation, “I am an excellent rider of a backwards bike.” No. He set out with the affirmation, practiced, created opportunities to have a positive experience and stuck with it.
Remember those? That brown twirling, sticky paper hanging from the ceiling? It’s purpose was to attract an insect to land on it and never let go.
Negative thoughts are just like flypaper.
1. They are sticky
If you have one negative thought flow into your experience, it is very easy to stick with it, embellish it, talk about it, and think of other negative thoughts to go with it. It is as though we feed on them and they satisfy an inner hunger. Someone cuts you off in traffic and instantaneously, the word “idiot,” comes flying out. “What a jerk,” follows, with thoughts of self centeredness contempt, judgement and so on. Or perhaps someone insults you and you get angry. Immediately, you search your mind for other times when this person was mean, insulting, of poor character and develop a whole list of justifications as to why you are angry.
2. They appear harmless
It seems harmless to indulge in negative thinking and sometimes even feels good, temporarily that is. If we really become centred and present, the feeling or sensations in our body are completely different when we are thinking positively, than when we are indulging in negative thinking. Bruce Lipton, in Spontaneous Evolution, suggests that “limiting, self sabotaging, negative beliefs can undermine our strength, health and desires (2009,26).” In some cases, we can actually begin to experience all the emotional, mental and physiological responses the original negative experience brought on. Our body starts to react. If we sit with these bodily sensations, we may begin to notice the tense muscles in our face, the flushing of our skin, clenched fists, depleted energy and shortness of breath. It may be subtle, but it is there.
3. Limiting and restrictive
Negative thinking can be limiting and restrictive because it recycles old memories and belief patterns that are controlling your experience. Nothing new can come into your existence because you are not open to it. Quantum physics explains it as infinite possibilities that cannot become a part of your experience because of your focus on only one outcome. You are automatically collapsing the wave of possibilities, unconsciously, to the same old, repeated, patterned result.
Get me off this flypaper!
Become Aware of your thoughts
First, you must become aware of what you are thinking. Considering that 95% of the time people operate from their subconscious, this may seem like a daunting task but it is doable.
A) Find an activity that you can do that brings presence to the moment. This could be meditating, walking, knitting or doing the dishes. Complete focused attention on the task, feeling, experiencing, tasting, with all the senses helps to bring awareness. This takes practice, practice and more practice but with perseverance, you’ll be able to bring this calm presence to more active life activities and the identification of protruding negative thoughts becomes possible.
B) In a centered and present state, ask yourself, “Is it absolutely true?” Is it possible there is more information that is not available to you? Can there be another perspective? If so, consider both. Contemplate any other possible truths, facts or information that could impact how the situation is perceived. Maybe that person who cut you off just received terrible news and was distracted. Have you ever been distracted?
C) Find the gift. If you dig deep enough, every situation has a gift just waiting to be received, you just have to open yourself up to it. Being cut off in traffic can be gift. Who knows what could have happened. Maybe you were distracted and the driver got your attention helping to avoid a future accident. You never know.
Becoming aware of your negative thoughts, examining them and finding the gift in the experience can begin to move you from the subconscious the conscious mind, thus, creating your experience by choice rather than default.
I like to think that I was sitting on a log in heaven and was creating the experiences that I was planning to have during my trip on Earth. These included all the necessary opportunities I needed in order to discover what it is I am not. For this particular lifetime, I arranged a variety of circumstances and relationships that would support this learning. These included the parents I would be born to the family dynamics, the childhood experiences and so on. I knew that any time I had the free will to learn effectively and clearly from any one experience and as a result would effect positively on my human experience. I also knew that I may choose to live an experience over and over again within this lifetime. It didn’t matter what I would choose because there is no right or wrong. It would just be my experience.
I like to think of it like my own personal video game. I am a player and my life is the gaming software. As I enter the game, I am new and unaware of how the game operates. I start playing and within no time at all, my game is over. I try again, but get the same results. Until finally I advance and make it to the next level. I no longer have to go all the way back to the beginning because I have achieved a certain level of success and therefore am capable of more challenges and opportunities. There are many different choices a player can make in a game and more than one way to progressively advance through the different stages. The end result is the same. The player will advance through all the available levels within the software. At the end of this game, new software will need to be purchased with new players, new choices and new experiences.
That’s our lives. When we arrive on earth, as perfect expressions of our creator we are slowly exposed to our world and we begin to explore the levels of experience on Earth. We begin learning how to best interact with the world around us learning quickly from our mistakes and creating relationships with those around us. At each stage of our lives the choices change and the relationships change and we begin to develop our character or who we are in the world. This is duality. This begins the journey of separation.
The exciting part of seeing life as our game is that it takes the pressure off. The end will be the same no matter what choices we make, what experiences we have, what perceptions we have, or how spiritually evolved we are. In other words, there is no wrong way to play the game. You might struggle more than the next guy. You may choose to try doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results but the game is clear. The rules apply to all players and all players have the same tools available to them. It just depends on how, when or if they choose to use them.
Just like in a real video game, you can read the rules but unless you practice by playing it is difficult to get ahead in the game. That is why implementing and practicing spirituality on a daily basis is so helpful. It allows you to create positive subconscious behavior patterns that will operate automatically, creating more of what you want in your life. When you are getting more of what you want in life, you’re going with the flow. When you are going with the flow, life becomes easy. Just like the game. Once you get to know how to work the buttons, understand the goals that need to be achieved and with practice the video game becomes easier and more enjoyable. You tend to go for longer periods of time without difficulties and when they do arise, you know that you can apply all the things you learned in the past to apply to the given challenge allowing you to move through it more quickly and effectively. The video game, just like life, will always have challenges. You can choose to apply the same strategy over and over again, you can choose to stop playing the game and just remain at the same level or you can try a variety of different techniques, using the knowledge and experience you’ve acquired to advance.
It all depends on how you look at the game of life. Will it be a video game full of challenges that are viewed as troublesome, boring, frustrating and not worth playing or will it be seen as a new adventure, learning, possibilities and opportunities?
I am not
I am the breath.
I am not
I am the thought
being lived, breathed and cradled.
I am not
I am full.
I am not
I am love
In and the out, everything, pulsing.
I am not
I am the essence.
I am not
I am more.
See me, feel me, touch me.