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Principle #6: The Principle of Conscious Change

By Bill Harris, Centerpointe Research Institute

These principles are, in a way, very enigmatic, in the sense that they are simultaneously elegantly simple and densely impenetrable. Until you "get" each principle, it seems inconceivable, unable to be understood, unable to be put in practice, unhelpful. Though each of these principles can be understood and integrated into your life in an instant, in actual practice it can take years for the real meaning, in a practical sense, to dawn on you.

Do you remember when you learned to ride a bicycle? You would ride along with your dad or mom running alongside holding the bike up. Then they would let go, and pretty soon you would fall over. It seemed hard, and you wondered if you could do it.

Then, mom or dad let go but you didn't know they'd let go, and several seconds later when you looked back, they were half a block behind you and you were riding, all by yourself! Hey, this is easy!

I remember thinking tying my shoes was the most complicated series of motions ever thought up by anyone, and wondered how my mother could tie my shoe so easily (while talking on the phone, even!) But once you learn it, it seems so easy.

These principles are the same as riding a bike or tying your shoe. They seem hard, but once you get it, they are easy - and because of them, life becomes much easier. If there is one thing I'm trying to teach, it is that life IS easy. If it is hard for you, you are doing something, consciously or unconsciously, to make it hard.

I see or hear from people every day who have one drama, one disaster, one stress after another in their life. Life is mostly bumps and bruises and suffering for them. From my perspective, it is easy to see how they are creating all of this, and also how they can stop creating it.

But for them, it all just seems to be "happening" to them. They don't yet see that what happens comes from them, from their model of the world, from what they focus on, from their internal and external strategies for making each moment-by-moment decision.

In Principle #5 I wrote about personal responsibility. This is an extremely important principle because until you take responsibility, until you realize that what happens (or at the very least your response to what happens) is coming from you and NOT from anything outside of you, you can't do anything about it. Once you take responsibility, though, you can take control and make things the way you want them.

The next step, once you accept personal responsibility, is to become more conscious. How do I describe "conscious" to you? Everyone throws this term around as if they know what it means, but as I look around, it is not at all apparent to me that they do. Being conscious does NOT mean being politically correct, or following the Dalai Lama, or being aware of injustice, or even something like communicating with God or Jesus or spirit guides, or anything like that.

Being conscious means not operating as an automatic response mechanism. It means seeing what is happening, on all levels simultaneously, at every moment, and choosing an emotional, mental, behavioral, and spiritual response based on what is the most resourceful choice in that moment. Ultimately, it means doing all of this automatically, without conscious thought (there's a seeming contradiction - being conscious, but doing it automatically!)

A part of you learns to process all the possibilities in a split second and respond in just the right way - not with a preset response (which is what I mean by being an automatic response mechanism), but with a choice that is optimum for the situation.

Most people, unfortunately, are on automatic. They have "rules" or set procedures for what to think, what to feel, and what to do in various situations - rules or procedures they learned when they were too young to know any better - and these responses happen automatically, like Pavlov's dog salivating when it hears the bell. Some of these responses were learned through physical or emotional pain, and are particularly deeply imbedded. Others are just things we accepted as true because our parents told us they were true over and over at an age when they seemed like infallible gods.

At the very least, many of these rules and procedures serve to help us deal with our anxiety, or what I often refer to as overwhelm. We feel anxious so we withdraw, get angry, have a cigarette, eat, exercise, act silly, have a drink, talk too much, space out, have sex, tense up, buy something, watch TV, cry... or one of thousands of other behaviors or feelings. We don't choose to do them because they seemed to be the most resourceful thing we could do at the time. We just do them, automatically. Usually they are anything but resourceful. Often, they lead to drama, suffering, problems, sadness.

A person who has done much of their life unconsciously doesn't know they are doing it, and you may not believe me when I tell you this is something you are probably doing, and doing quite a lot, if not all, of the time. It takes becoming more conscious to realize what you were doing.

When we describe the idea of being the witness in the support materials, of being the watcher, of noticing yourself when you are having an uncomfortable feeling, when I say "just watch with curiosity," we are trying to get you to begin the process of becoming more conscious. I will have much more to say about this when I get to the principle of witnessing in a later article.

Here, though, is the BIG BENEFIT of being more conscious: It is impossible to do something that isn't good for you, or is in some way non-resourceful (destructive) to you, and also do it consciously.

You can do something destructive to yourself (feelings, beliefs, values, behaviors, etc.) over and over as long as you do it unconsciously (without continuous conscious awareness). But once you begin to do the non-resourceful feeling, behavior, belief, value, etc. consciously, it will begin to fall away. You just cannot do something that is not good for you and also do it consciously.

The trick, of course, is to remain conscious, which is (as I said at the top of this article) one of those things, like riding your bike or tying your shoe, that seems really hard until you get it, and then it seems easy and you wonder why you ever thought it was hard. For this reason, as you unravel in your own life the mystery of what it means to be conscious, do not let yourself be discouraged. Keep going, keep trying, keep watching, and at some point you will turn around and no one will be holding the bicycle up and you'll be doing it and it will all make sense.

We have many ways of going unconscious so as not to deal with what we are feeling or how we are behaving: eating, drugs and alcohol, projection and blaming, spacing out, and distracting oneself through a thousand and one different methods. To become conscious, you must: 1) identify your favorite ways of going unconscious, 2) be vigilant in noticing them, and 3) be committed to gradually facing yourself from the perspective of the watcher instead of allowing yourself to go unconscious. This means developing the ability to be the witness to what is happening, developing that part of you that can stand aside and notice what you are doing, feeling, or thinking, as you do it, watching without judgment or comment, just watching with curiosity, like a scientist.

This is one of the greatest benefits of the Centerpointe program, and one of the most difficult to describe or quantify: that using Holosync, over time, creates and increases the ability to remain conscious and deal with things consciously.

So keep listening every day to your soundtracks, let whatever happens when you listen be okay, and take some time, especially when you feel an uncomfortable emotion, to just watch yourself have it. Pretty soon you'll be saying "Look, Mom! No hands!"

Be well.

Bill Harris, Director Centerpointe Research Institute

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