(Photo courtesy of Roger Blake)
“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are.”
– Bill Hicks, Standup Comedian
For years, my youngest daughter Tallulah has wanted to go to the amusement park, Alton Towers. She was desperate to go, but she decided to wait until she was 1.4 metres tall (that’s the height you need to be to go on the biggest, scariest rides). It was her eleventh birthday last month, and she’d reached the 1.4 metre mark, so last week, she and I decided to spend a day riding roller-coasters.
The first ride we went on is called “Air”, designed to simulate the experience of flying. The roller-coaster holds you prone, in a “superman” position as you “fly” at high speed close to the ground, past rocks, trees etc. As we queued to go on the ride, Tallulah was visibly nervous, and considered bailing out. But to her credit, she hung in there. Finally, it was our turn. We were locked into our harnesses and the ride began. We had passed the point of no return! The next two minutes were intoxicating as we reached speeds of 75 km/h and experienced more than 3 times the force of gravity. We flew, spun and looped through the park.
Tallulah loved it! When the ride was over, she said “I was really frightened in the queue, but the ride was amazing! I really enjoyed it.” Her statement stopped me in my tracks, and I asked her what she made of that. She said, “I guess I was feeling my thinking in the queue, but I thought I was feeling the roller coaster.”
Tallulah had seen through the oldest trick in the book, the mistaken belief that we’re feeling something other than our moment to moment thinking. We’re always living in the feeling of the principle of Thought, taking form in the moment. But it often seems as though we’re feeling something other than Thought. Why? Because Thought is a trickster. It will point the finger at anything but itself. When she was in the queue, it seemed as though Tallulah’s feelings were coming from the roller coaster ride in the future, but in fact she was experiencing a Thought-generated illusion in the present.
I congratulated her on the profundity of her insight. I told her that as she went through life, she would see countless examples of people who were acting as though they were feeling the ride when they were actually in the queue, literally confused about where their experience is coming from. Speaking as a coach, this simple but widespread misunderstanding is the cause of the vast majority of mental clutter, confusion and conflict people are up against.
Later in the day, we decided to go on the terrifying death-plunge ride, Oblivion. I’ve been on this ride many times, and it continues to be a breathtakingly frightening experience for me. Anyway, Tallulah was feeling cocky by this point, and wasn’t in the least-bit scared while we were in the queue. In fact, she was feeling so buoyant that she bet me a pound she wouldn’t scream on the ride. At the apex of the ride, you pause at the top of a terrifying 180-foot vertical drop for a moment or two. As you look down into a yawning black hole with vapour misting around it, you have a heartbeat or two where time seems to slow down to a snails pace. Suddenly, the mechanism releases, and you drop like a stone, reaching speeds of over 100 km/h as you disappear into a hole in the ground. Tallulah screamed her lungs out, and I won a shiny pound.
When the ride was over, Tallulah said, “That was weird. I felt happy and confident in the queue, but on the ride I was more scared than I’ve ever been in my life!” I could see she was perplexed. I told her it was simple. In the queue, she was in happy, confident thinking, so that’s what she was feeling. On the ride, she was in terrified thinking, so that’s what she was feeling. You’re always in the feeling of the principle of Thought taking form in the moment. Your feelings aren’t telling you about the queue OR the ride; they’re telling you about the principle of Thought taking form in this hot second.
And how does this relate to coaching with clarity? Here’s how: The fact that we’re feeling our thinking isn’t a problem. You’re always going to be experiencing the principle of Thought taking form moment to moment. The problems arise when people mistakenly believe they’re feeling something other than the principle of thought; when we believe we’re feeling whatever we’re thinking about…
– The issue isn’t that a client has anxious feelings when they think about a talk they’re due to give. The issue is that they believe those feelings have something to do with the talk (they don’t).
– The issue isn’t that a client feels sad when they think about an argument they had. The issue is that they believe those feelings have something to do with the past (they don’t).
– The issue isn’t that a client feels frightened when they think about going into the unknown. The issue is that they believe those feelings have something to do with the future (they don’t).
Many people spend their lives worrying in the queue, mistakenly believing their feelings are telling them about what would happen if they took the ride of their life. But it’s all happening moment to moment. Our feelings are telling us about Thought taking form in this moment right now, in this blessed instant. As you start to glimpse the truth of this, your life begins to transform, and you start enjoying the ride, more and more.
If you’d like to get a sense of the impact that understanding the principles behind clarity can have for you and your clients, check out the results people are getting on our Certified Clarity Practitioner Programme. The 2014/15 programme starts in September and the first 42 people have already booked their places, so there are only 6 places left. You can have a look now to find out if it’s a good fit for you (live-streaming options also available). You can get access to the full information here: Get Clarity Now