Experiments You Can Do To Create
"A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels."
- Albert Einstein
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The Thoughtmap Of Navigating The Space Of Relationship
In each moment...
you have a choice: ordinary, extraordinary, or archetypal
Which do you choose?
These twenty-seven experiments help build a foundation for Adult responsibility and Extraordinary Human Relationship.
The difficulty here is that Extraordinary Human Relationship is generated through ongoing nonlinear creation for which there can never be a methodical system.
Nonlinear creation means something that works once will not necessarily ever work again in the history of the universe.
Then again, maybe it will.
There are no guaranteed formulas.
Extraordinary Human Relationship demands that you take fierce, reasonless responsibility for ongoingly creating the possibility of Extraordinary Human Love. There are no rules for making this happen. You just need to keep trying. (Watch the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray to see what is meant by keep trying.) Remember, these are experiments. Some of the experiments are simple actions that take only a few moments and are repeated over and over again. Some are subtle or fundamental attitude shifts that show up as a totally new tactical approach to problems or potential conflicts. Other experiments may take days or weeks to try but might be done only once in a lifetime.
While experimenting it can be both wise and practical to adopt the perspective of Old Lodge Skins in the film Little Big Man, “Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it does not.”
Each experiment works in its own dimensions, so the results of one experiment may or may not have a connection to the performance of another experiment. You can conduct your experiments like the conductor of an orchestra, choosing which experiments to try when, how intensely, and deciding how to harmonize the mood of each experiment with the others when you are doing more than one experiment at a time.
As you conduct your life’s concerto, consider this: How would your relationships be if moment to moment you consciously knew that every move you made while being together was a living improvised experiment and that this is how it is supposed to be?
Do not complain to your partner. No matter what is happening make zero derogatory comments about anything, even under your breath. Notice whatever you notice. Decide whatever you decide. Do what you do. But along the way, do not complain. Not even one little squeak. Complaining places you in the victim position of Low Drama – you become adaptive and manipulating. Life is not Low Drama. If there is something to complain about, then change it. If you decide not to change it, then be happy with how it is.
Be radiantly happy. Most of us have squelched our happiness down to the level of happiness tolerated in a bank lobby. It is far more acceptable these days to be cool than it is to be happy. Unsquelch your happiness. Discover and connect into the source of being happy for no reason. Watch children under the age of three. If their innocence has not yet been shattered, then their actions are fueled by pure joy. That joy is still in you somewhere. Find it. Let it shine, out loud, with your voice and body and facial expressions attached.
If the waiter brings you something different from what you ordered, do not explain that a mistake was made. Calling it a mistake is questioning the intelligence of the universe. Who knows? Maybe your body needs vitamins or proteins that were not contained in your original order. Instead of sending your order back to the kitchen, change your mind. Decide, “Yes, wow! A surprise from the universe! This is so much better than what I ordered.” Choose what was served, and make your choosing invisible to others. You are not a victim if you have changed your mind. It builds matrix to eat what was served rather than what you ordered. This also applies to life at large.
Repeatedly experiment with not knowing your partner. Have no history with them. Dwell on no memories. See them now as if it is the first time you are seeing them, perhaps even the first time you are seeing another human being. Make it be the first time you are holding their hand, the first time you are holding any hand. What a wonderfully fulfilling experience it is to hold this incredible being’s hand.
Do not remember any pre-existing story that your partner has told about themselves. Listen instead to whatever story they are creating about themselves in that moment and repeat it back to them so that they know you heard their story. Know that the story they are telling now, no matter what that story is, once it is heard can completely vanish, as if it never existed. Then, an entirely new and different story can take its place.
Make surprises. Surprises do not involve money or gifts. Surprises do not involve physical objects or props. Surprises are delightful theater pieces created through wrapping you and your partner into unexpected qualities of space. Surprises are not practical jokes or gags. No one is insulted. No one looks bad. Surprises come from you going nonlinear into a possibility that was invisible just a moment ago and did not occur to anyone else. Learn to shift identity, to speak in different accents, take on a wide variety of characters, go sideways into parallel conversations, adopt extraordinary viewpoints and consider staying there and going back there often.
Be early. Do not make your partner wait for you. Think ahead and be proactive. Learn to move faster than the speed of time. That means do whatever it takes, without rushing, to arrive where you intended to be before the clock gets there. Get present before your partner arrives. Truly enjoy yourself while waiting for your partner to join you.
Ordinary Human Relationships involve a kind of mutual vampire feeding, “I’ll do this for you if you do that for me.” These relationships will never rise above the Ordinary. Whatever you provide for your partner do not make them pay. Provide Extraordinary Love for free, as if you had an infinitely inexhaustible supply (because you do!).
Take care of your energetic body. Make it so that you have a surplus of energy for your partner rather than being a drag on them. Flow energy to your partner rather than wanting them to flow energy to you. There may be times when you ask your partner to listen to your pain, but do not make their listening to your pain the main meal of your relationship. Your partner is not Mommy or Daddy. When you need them to listen to your pain, ask if you can share something with them and that you do not expect them to do anything about it but to be-with you. If you do want them to do something, then be specific and ask them directly: “Would you hold me please?” “Would you get the kids in bed tonight?” Do not expect your partner to be manipulated into action by your victim story.
Take care of your physical body. Your physical body is probably the only physical body that your partner gets to play with. Keep it clean, pretty, strong, and in tip-top shape for being played with rigorously. This particularly does not mean preoccupation with trying to make your body like the computer augmented magazine photos! Your partner is not attracted to you because of your tan, your eye makeup, or the size of your penis or breasts. They are attracted to you because you enjoy being yourself exactly as you are. Your physical body has its own unique state of wellness and radiant health. Take care to have that.
Take care of your intellectual body by studying, engaging in stimulating conversation, attending talks and workshops and seminars that interest you. Feed yourself a steady diet of nonlinear high-meme-content intellectual foods. Do not depend only on your partner for your intellectual nourishment.
Take care of your emotional body by continuously knowing the difference between feelings and emotions. Seek the immediacy of your feelings. Clean up the contaminating residue of your emotions. Your emotional healing process is none of your partner’s business. Handle it maturely yourself. Do not use your partner as a surrogate therapist, psychologist, doctor, healer, nurse, teacher, or parent. It is not your partner’s job to heal you. It is your partner’s job to enjoy your company. So, be good company.
Clean up messes. Messes get in the way of perceiving subtle joys of life like dog poop gets in the way of rolling in fresh green grass. A little dog poop can stink up a whole room. A dirty dish or kid's toy can destroy the elegant sanctuary of your home like a cigarette butt destroys the wa (和, meaning harmony) of a Japanese garden. Consistently scan with an “eagle eye” for messes that you can put into order. (There is a difference between an “eagle eye” and a “neurotically critical eye.” Use the former. Avoid the latter.) There are little messes everywhere. Even if it is not your mess you can clean it up as a matter of course with almost no effort. Be careful though. One person’s mess is another person’s museum. Respect the idiosyncratic needs of your partner’s Box. For example, Do Not Touch Their Desk! Do not put anything on their desk except at a designated In-Box.
Make elegance. Elegance effervesces from revealed details. If you do not have an organic experience of what elegance is, learn. Elegance can radiate from a cleaned room. Elegance can radiate from simple furniture, fine art, carefully prepared food, well-spoken words. Elegance can radiate from the way you move your attention in empty space, how you say, “Good morning,” how you open a door, or how you enjoy your partner’s smile.
Unstress yourself. Arranging to be stressed is your Box’s strategy for avoiding intimacy, and our culture’s principal distraction from authenticity. Here is how to unstress: Get enough sleep – take naps. Drink enough water – not just coffee, tea, soda, or alcohol. Take a warm bath. Eat well – not too much or too little. Avoid over-stimulating yourself – manage your energy. Exercise. Stay healthy – do not catch colds. Renegotiate overwork and overwhelm. Do not have accidents – get nurtured through intentional physical intimacy instead.
Move instantaneously without procrastination. There is often no need to think about or discuss things. What if your instinctual intuition was God giving you direct instructions as to exactly what to do now? And then you decide to think about it? Stop looking for triple confirmation. Skip the explanations – they are intellectual superfluity. Just move.
Be yes. When your partner or child says no, be yes for their no, meaning support their no. Say, “I love you and I respect you whatever you choose.” Then honor their choice without further discussion. Carry no emotional baggage about it. “Yes, but…” is negation. Do not say, “Yes, but…” Instead learn to say, “Yes, and…” When someone offers you an idea to try out, accept their offer through being a yes for their offer. “Accepting offers” is an important piece of improvisational theater. (For more on this see Keith Johnstone’s great book Impro.) We so often reject what we are offered because it is not in our original plans. Who do you think made the plans anyway? Are you bending your life around, forcing other people as well as your endless self to fit into your Box’s plans?
Try this experiment: Do not reject whatever your partner offers you. Surprise them with your utter lack of resistance. Provide pleasurable accompaniment. Even if you are holding hands at a football game you are still holding hands. Pay attention to what you are yes about. In this case, be yes about the experience of the hand you are holding.
Commit to what your partner is committed to. This means developing Possibility Listening. Listen for what your partner is committed to and then commit to that. Most of us do not really know what our partner, our children, or our boss are committed to. It may be to finish knitting a sweater by Christmas, or to do 500 pushups, or to open a successful restaurant, or to spend some weekend hours totally relaxing. We all have both conscious and unconscious commitments. Many of the unconscious commitments that we are most fiercely committed to fulfilling are irresponsible. This experiment is not like Bonnie’s commitment to Clyde’s irresponsible habit of bank robbing. This experiment is about listening for and committing to your partner’s responsible commitments.
If you ever get sick or hurt yourself in an accident, even in a minor way like bumping your head or cutting your finger while slicing carrots, develop the immediate habit of saying, “Thank you,” to the universe. You can either trust or distrust the universe; it can be your friend or your enemy. If you establish a trusting relationship to the universe, that trust includes everything, even things that at first seem “bad” or “negative.”
Having an accident sends a shock to your attention. Most often, accidents occur in a moment when we are unconscious or “asleep,” not paying attention to our attention. In the moment of the accident, we are shocked into the “waking state” and are aware of what we are aware of. If you reject the value of the accident you also reject the waking state. If you do not wake up immediately and fully in response to each little bug bite, intestinal pain, itch or ache, then the universe has to resort to bigger shocks to wake you up, and it will. A headache does not mean a lack of aspirin. Figure it out. The universe wants you awake and evolving. When you are not, the universe will do whatever it can to get through to you. If you have already decided to trust the universe, then if you smash your toe it is “cosmic acupuncture” at work on you. Be grateful.
If you are sick in bed there is some use to that, even if you don’t see it at first. Write poetry. Get rested. Grieve the loss of a loved one. Paint. Let the puzzlement of it work you into a new shape. This does not mean that anything “bad” is actually punishment for some past “sin.” It means, “Who are you to judge something as bad?” Life is not pain-free. “Life is hard and then you die.” Dying from some horrible disease does not necessarily mean anything at all. The world is so full of toxins and contaminants that your body will eventually succumb to something – it does not mean you did something wrong. When you refuse to be a victim and you trust the universe, even in the midst of pain, illness and accidents, you can stay open to receiving the benefits.
Doing so is a huge blessing for your partner, even if your “partner” is the temporary cohabitant of a hospital room.
Avoid saying, “Obviously….” As in, “Would you like me to take your coat?” “Obviously.” Or, “Did you enjoy your meal?” “Obviously.” Instead say yes or no. When decoded, what “obviously” really means is “you idiot!”
Take care of the kids. You have kids. Take care of them. This is an eighteen- or twenty-year commitment of time, energy, money and attention. Such an investment was made in you. Do it for them. It is easy to take care of children because their problems amount to one of five things: They are 1) hungry, 2) tired, 3) physically hurt, 4) sick, 5) unheard. Number 5 is the most problematical for parents, and the most easily resolved by engaging the Completion Loop with your child. Recall that a communication persists until it is received. Holding unreceived communications is painful for the child. Receiving communications is healing. Listen directly to what your child or partner says. Repeat back what you heard them say until they confirm that you got it by saying yes. The yes signifies that you have received their communication accurately. As soon as you get a yes the communication drops into the next deeper level of communion and a new communication begins.
Make boundaries with the kids instantly and without effort. Being a family is like singing a familiar song together. You already know how the song goes. You already know the melody and the words. When one note or one word is even slightly off, in timing or tone, you recognize it instantly in your whole body. This is the key to making boundaries. You detect when a correction needs to be made the millisecond the mood is off. Act then. Do not even think. Handle it. Move. Take responsibility for being the parent and make the changes during the singing so that the singing can continue in its beautiful harmony. There are two ways to conduct the orchestration of your family: neurotic control or responsible navigating. Neurotic control serves the comfort of your Box. Responsible navigating serves the Principles of Family, Communication, and Extraordinary Human Love. Do not confuse the two.
Whining is manipulation that a person (child or adult) does rather than being in relationship. Tolerate no whining. Period. When there is whining:
Start a meta-conversation, “I notice that you are whining. Whining is its own payoff. Are you willing to switch to a different kind of conversation? If not, I will talk with you later.” Or
Make a boundary, “No whining. I will not participate in a whining conversation.”
Create clarity, “That specific behavior is whining. I am not a garbage can for whining.” Or
Create possibility, “Is there some feeling that you want to share? Do you have a need? Do you have a different opinion? Is there something moving in you?” Then listen.
If the whining continues, go somewhere else or have the person whine somewhere else, not into you. This is not about them; it is simple clarity about the quality of communication that you support in your relationship. Whining yourself or permitting your mate, children, employees or boss to whine around you is beneath the dignity of an Adult relationship. Make clear distinctions about exactly what constitutes whining, including tone of voice, mood, and the intention of the message. Whining happening (contrary to Winning Happening!) around you is feedback that you are creating Ordinary Human Relationship. When whining stops then talk together.
Feed your soul. It is not your partner’s job to feed your soul. In rare instances, both people in a relationship require the same soul food at the same time and can lead projects together or can live in praise of the same spiritual master. But don’t fool yourself about this! Having projects together does not necessarily solve more problems than it causes. Your partner may need totally different soul food than you do. Respect the different need like you would respect your partner ordering liver and onions even when you want to eat Caesar salad. Encourage them to get their soul fed and take care to feed yours.
Live integrity. Most of us freak out just hearing the word “integrity.” Our nervous system sends lie detectors off the scale just seeing words like accountable, impeccable, or responsible written on a piece of paper. “Integrity” simply means doing what you say you are going to do. “I will put a new light bulb in,” is not an empty phrase. It is a measurable promise. People to whom you say such things, even offhandedly, take note. They cannot help it. Promises go into the soul, and then the soul starts waiting for the promise to be kept through your actions. If you do not do what you say you are going to do, what you say and what you do are not one, they are not integral. With enough incomplete promises, your partner’s being to being connection to you will break down in confusion and resentment. This is totally predictable and totally avoidable. Being integrity in action builds more and more connection.
“Rub her feet.” This is an amazing experiment to be done almost anywhere and any time for no reason. This extraordinary idea comes from Lazarus Long, the character from Robert Heinlein’s novel, Time Enough for Love, who lived 3500 years, often in the company of women – obvious proof that he knew what he was talking about!
Try again. You have probably tried any number of things with your partner that did not seem to work. Maybe you tried to have them tell you about their fears, or tried to relax yourself more and be happy while visiting with the in-laws, or tried to be more appreciative of the children. When at first our trials do not work we tend to not try again. The experiment here is to go ahead and try again. In Extraordinary Human Relationship, “do-overs” are allowed. Try again, even if the first time that you tried was only a few seconds ago. You might be surprised to find how many possibilities are available in each next three seconds.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
NEVER IGNORE YOUR IGNORANCE
Do not forget that you are truly an expert at creating Ordinary Human Relationship. Do not forget your ignorance. Ignorance and knowledge, darkness and light, scarcity and abundance, all the contrasting opposites come hand in hand. You do not get one without the other. Do not live in the fantasy expectation that you can only be the source of Extraordinary Human Relationship and that Ordinary Human Relationship is a thing of the past. Can a horse outrun its own tail? Can you dine in five-star restaurants without making shit? Even if you do not consciously choose actions that create Ordinary Human Relationship they are always at hand.
The ignorance never leaves you.
Even if you do the experiments from this book and you succeed at entering Extraordinary or Archetypal domains of relationship, you can never ignore your well-oiled mechanisms for enlivening Shadow Principles, lest they sneak out and stealthily devour your hard-earned treasures.
Ignorance is like a rabid dog. As soon as you stop guarding against a rabid dog it will jump up and bite your ass. Trying to forget your previous and still readily-available incompetencies can be a rabid dog biting your ass if you turn arrogant or proud about the new soft skills you have learned. Becoming aware of what you were not aware of before can produce a superiority that the Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana Master Chögyam Trungpa called “spiritual materialism” in his book of the same title. Your hard-earned soft skills can be a justification used by your Box for regarding yourself as someone who really knows something. You take a secretly haughty position from which you can look down over your nose, disgustedly, at all the poor ignorant peasants around you. Before you know it you will be mentally competing against others to find who is the better practitioner! Spiritual materialism is a seriously debilitating affliction and should be treated with full strength anti-memes the moment it is detected (like, now).
Another way your ignorance can bite you in the ass is if you judge your previous incompetence as “bad.” Judging the behaviors that produce Ordinary Human Relationship as “bad” and banishing them into forgetfulness is fanaticism. Fanaticism is the fantasy that “I never do this (anymore, forgetting that just a short while ago you did do exactly this) and if you do it then you need to be fixed.”
Fanaticism will not protect you from your own ignorance.
The only thing that protects you from your own ignorance is diamond sharp clarity that behaviors are neither good nor bad but that each behavior produces a different kind of result. Vigilant consciousness means holding a sword of persistent awakeness about what behaviors you enact and why. The sword is presence of mind, paying relaxed but precise attention to your purpose; staying at the edge, able to move in any direction. Vigilant consciousness is at the core of the term “practice.” The only thing that protects you in each moment from falling back into being a slave to the purposes of Ordinary Human Relationship is your practice.
It is not like you can practice for a number of months or years and then achieve some kind of steady-state safety zone of “mastery.” Such “mastery” is an illusion presented by the Box. The illusion is that the Box can sacrifice to make a flurry of efforts and achieve a certificate of “mastery,” after which you can kick back and relax, assured that you are a responsible Adult and will only create Extraordinary Human Relationship. It does not work that way. Ask any true Master.
Their answer will be the same: “You will need to practice until your last breath.”