Being/Allowing vs Doing/Fixing
September 2014 Graduate Meeting

Video for this meeting:
Hands off the Controls by Tara Brach [30 min]

    How do we change? How do we not change? If you are like many people, you probably feel stuck or blocked in one or more areas of your life. There is something about you, or your circumstances, or your feelings and reactions to things that you would like to change. That is very natural. But let us now contrast two ways of approaching this wish to change.
    One way assumes that to have something change, you must make it change. You must do something to it. We can call this the Doing/Fixing way.
    The other way, which we can call the Being/Allowing way, assumes that change and flow is the natural course of things, and when something seems not to change, what it needs is attention and awareness, with an attitude of allowing it to be as it is, yet open to its next steps.
    Our everyday lives are deeply permeated with the Doing/Fixing assumption. When you tell a friend about a problem, how often is her response to give you advice on fixing the problem? Many of our modem therapy methods carry this assumption as well. Cognitive therapy, for example, asks you to change your self-talk. Hypnotherapy often brings in new images and beliefs to replace the old. So the Being/Allowing philosophy, embodied in Focusing, is a radical philosophy. It turns around our usual expectations and ways of viewing the world. It's as if I were to say to you that this chair you are sitting on would like to become an elephant, and if you will just give it interested attention it will begin to transform. What a wild idea! Yet that is how wild it sounds, to some deeply ingrained part of ourselves, when we are told that a fear that we have might transform into something which is not at all fear, if it is given interested attention.
    When people who are involved in Focusing talk about the "wisdom of the body," this is what they mean: that the felt sense "knows" what it needs to become next, as surely as a baby knows it needs warmth and comfort and food. As surely as a radish seed knows it will grow into a radish. We never have to tell the felt sense what to become; we never have to make it change. We just need to provide the conditions which allow it to change, like a good gardener providing light and soil and water, but not telling the radish to become a cucumber.
           - from Radical Acceptance by Ann Weiser Cornell

    There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves.
           - Thomas Merton
Closing Thoughts

     Our true nature is like a precious jewel: although it may be temporarily buried in mud, it remains completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it.
           - Pema Chodron

     What people think of you is none of your business.
           - Deepak Chopra

     People can talk you into and out of philosophies and theory but no one can argue you out of your experience.
           - Iyanla Vanzant (via Emma Grindley)