Can You Apply What You Believe?
One of the things I've noticed in my 20+ years in teaching personal growth trainings, and providing personal growth programs to people all over the world, is that many people have already heard of many of the ideas I teach when they come to Centerpointe for help.
Unfortunately, in almost every case they haven't figured out how to actually apply these principles to their life. If they had figured out how to apply them, they probably wouldn't be coming to us for help.
Ideas that people have trouble applying include "let whatever happens be okay"..."you create your own reality"..."any meaning a person, place or thing has for you, you gave it that meaning (i.e., 'nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so')"...and quite a few others. These ideas are almost cliches in personal growth, and most people you ask will tell you they believe them, but almost no one really follows them.
I often speak to groups about these principles. I get nodding heads and almost always total agreement that these principles represent the truth of how life works. Then, within five minutes of concluding my talk, I see someone NOT letting something be okay, or someone insisting in one way or another that something outside of them is creating the way they feel, or I see someone failing to see how they are placing a meaning on something (and taking that meaning as true) that the person, place, or situation does not intrinsically have.
Why does this happen? How can someone be in total agreement with a certain idea or principle, yet instantly forget the principle when it's time to apply it?
I could answer this question in several ways: The person is not conscious. The person does not feel safe applying the principle. The person understands the principle intellectually but not experientially. The person cannot "chunk down" the theory to apply it to a real-world, practical situation.
Let's look at each of these and see if we can better understand why we might "understand" something but not be able to apply it.
You'll notice, first of all, that the three examples I gave (and I could have given several more) all involve asking someone to see themselves and the world in a different way, and there is a specific reason for doing so: if they change their perspective, they will suffer less. This makes the fact that people know about and agree with these ideas, yet fail to apply them, even more tragic. By failing to do so, they create suffering for themselves--suffering that is very much avoidable.
Let's look at chunking first. Chunking up is the ability to see connections between different things, and in doing so to group them into related categories. Cars become means of transportation, which becomes ways of moving, which becomes ways of existing. We see isolated instances of something, and we notice they are related, so we group them. We create a generalization. The above principles are generalizations, based on observing many people's behavior and the resulting consequences. People have observed real situations in the human condition, they've noticed certain relationships these situations share, and based on these similarities, they have created certain generalizations. They've noticed that when people suffer, for instance, there is always something they are not letting be okay, and that when people let whatever happens be okay, they suffer less.
Some people have trouble seeing these relationships. In other words, they have trouble chunking up. They have trouble learning generalized lessons from the events of their life, and because of this they keep making the same mistakes over and over. They might, however, learn from someone else's ability to create generalizations, even if they have trouble making them for themselves (oh, how I wish my daughter could benefit from the general principles I've made about life--but that's another topic we won't get into).
Other people have trouble chunking down. Chunking down, at least as it applies to what I'm talking about here, is the ability to take a theory, a principle, a generalization, and apply it to a new and specific situation. To give a ridiculous example, it would be as if you saw a car you had never seen before, and because you had never seen this specific car, you couldn't tell that it was a car. Few people would make this mistake, because you've seen many cars, and you know that when you see something with doors on each side, four wheels, a windshield, fenders and bumpers, and a steering wheel, it's a car, even if you haven't seen that particular car before. But people do have trouble chunking down in other less obvious situations, and that's one of the things that is happening when someone agrees with a certain life principle, but can't see the situations where they are not following it.
Here's an example. You agree that it is best to let whatever happens be okay, that once something is the way it is, and cannot be changed, to resist it just creates more suffering. As I talk about this principle, you nod and smile. Then, however, your get upset five minutes later because you forgot your money at home and now, to have lunch, you'll have to drive to the ATM. Somehow, you failed to see that letting this particular situation be okay is a perfect example of exactly what I was talking about, and that by becoming upset about something that has already happened you are adding additional, unnecessary suffering to the other consequences (in this case, having to drive to the ATM to get some money).
I've seen this happen hundreds of times. People get the principles on a theoretical level, but can't apply them to a real situation--or don't even see the situation at all. They cannot see that getting upset in this situation is a real-life, rubber-meets-the-road example of NOT letting whatever happens be okay.
Sometimes, a person doesn't feel safe enough in the world to apply the principle. They agree with the principle, but when it comes time to apply it, their feeling of being unsafe is stronger than their desire to apply the principle. They realize that something they did not want has happened, and it creates fear in them (often followed by anger or sadness). These feelings are attempts to cope with being over their threshold for what they can handle. They are attempts to feel safe in what they think is an unsafe situation. Instead of seeing the situation, seeing how it relates to the general principle--and then saying "Hmmm. I'm not letting what has happened here be okay. Maybe if I did, I would avoid some suffering"--they allow the unsafe feeling to take over, and they react with their favorite coping mechanism in an attempt to deal with being over their threshold.
All of these are really examples of not being consciously aware of what is going on (do you see how I had to chunk up to arrive at that conclusion?) Not seeing that a specific incident is an example of a general principle comes from a lack of conscious awareness. Not feeling safe comes from a lack of conscious awareness (on a very high level, a conscious awareness that there really is no way you can be unsafe, because you are everything, and on a less lofty level that you really are somehow safer if you resist what is happening). Not being able to chunk up or down comes from a lack of conscious awareness of the full spectrum of ideas on a certain subject and how they are related. It all, ultimately comes from a lack of conscious awareness.
Here, then, is the ideal: You ARE consciously aware of how you are creating your reality. You see the internal processing that happens between the experiences you have, on one hand, and the internal states and external behaviors and results that happen, on the other. Because you are aware of this internal processing, you know exactly what you are doing to create the feelings (and other states) you're experiencing, as well as what you're doing to attract the people and situations you're experiencing, and to create whatever behaviors you're exhibiting. You KNOW you are creating your reality. You KNOW what happens isn't coming from outside of you. When you become consciously aware of this, moment by moment, it becomes very difficult to create outcomes and feelings you don't want.
Second, when something happens--when you have a certain experience--you instantly see how it is an instance of one or more of the basic life principles. You know this because you EXPERIENTIALLY know that these principles describe the way the universe works. It isn't a theory for you, it's your experience. You are unable to act as if you are unsafe without instantly noticing that you are doing so and instantly knowing that it isn't true that you are unsafe. You are also able to see when you aren't allowing what is happening to be okay. In all situations, you are instantly able to see what is happening, what life principle it may be an example of, what the consequences of each possible response will be, and which is the best response.
When you live this way, you naturally know just what to do, and you naturally create happiness and inner peace for yourself.
So how do you get to the point where you can do this?
First, I'll tell you what I've been telling people for years: there definitely is a price to pay to get to this point, and there is no way to get there other than to pay this price. Reconcile yourself to this. There is no other way. There is no magic, no shortcut. You pay the price to change, or you stay the same.
Creating the change is, however, well worth the effort, because once you have this kind of conscious awareness, you can do, be, and have anything you want. You realize, right in your bones, that you really are safe, the universe is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing, and in each moment you know just what to do. Because of this, you RELAX. You become peaceful. You become happy.
So what is the price? A big part of the price (and one of the most difficult things for most people to do) is to let go of your old way of seeing yourself and your place in the world. You cannot get to this place I'm describing and also hang on to the old you. You have to trust that you will be safe (in fact, safer) if you let go of the old way of seeing yourself. People hang on to the old "me" because they falsely believe that doing so keeps them safe. In every case, however, it is hanging on to the old way that keeps them from being safe.
In a more how-to sense, the price involves a lot of meditating and learning to be the witness. As you know, I think you're going to get much faster results, with much less frustration and effort, if you use Holosync to meditate. Holosync accelerates the meditation process by at least fifteen times, in my experience. It also makes it much more easy to practice watching--being the witness--because it sweeps away those things your mind does to get in the way of being able to watch how you create your reality.
Finally, if you take apart the internal mechanism you use to create your reality, piece by piece--exactly what we do in the Life Principles Integration Process online courses--the whole process happens even faster and more easily. This is why I've put Holosync and the LPIP together. Holosync creates dramatic increases in conscious awareness, and the LPIP gives you a framework for understanding and using your conscious awareness and applying it to how you create your reality.
Besides meditating with Holosync and taking these online courses (and I do strongly urge you to get involved in the online courses--they are fabulous, and they are very inexpensive), here's another thing you can do: write down some of the basic principles you've learned in your spiritual work. If you need some ideas, see my articles about the Nine Principles for Conscious Living. Take one principle at a time, and practice noticing all the daily situations where that principle applies (all nine of them will apply to something at least once every minute, all day long, so you should have plenty to consider). In other words, practice chunking each principle down to specific situation, and them applying that principle, in the moment, to that situation.
Don't worry if you aren't good at doing this at first. Don't worry if it is confusing or difficult at first. If you practice, you will get better. You wouldn't expect to play Beethoven Piano Sonatas when you first start playing the piano, and you shouldn't expect to be good at what I'm teaching you when you first try it. Be willing to pay the price of practicing, and you will get better. Every person you've ever seen who is good at something practiced until they were good at it, and was willing to go through the necessary learning curve. If you're willing to pay the price of practicing, you'll get the result, too. If you're not willing to pay the price, then just relax and stay the same and be content with your life staying the same.
Conscious awareness exists in the moment by moment, day by day, little situations. Expanded awareness is not about altered states, and even in the few situation where altered states are involved, what good is it if you can't apply it to everyday situations where you keep creating suffering for yourself?
So keep meditating, and keep watching how you create your reality. Pay the price to become more consciously aware. If you do, your work will bear fruit, I promise, and you will be able to create whatever you want in life.
Bill Harris, Director
Centerpointe Research Institute