I was in a discussion group this week and writer’s block was mentioned. It never occurred to me that I could get writer’s block. Then as soon as I started thinking about it, I started to worry about it happening to me. It was the equivalent of medical student’s disease. This happens when medical students experience the symptoms of the disease they are studying. I started to bring the experience of writer’s block into fruition just by thinking about it.
It was interesting to watch me bring something I had never considered before into my experience and make it feel real simply by thinking about it. That is what it is to bring the formless energy of who we are into the form of thought, and then to bring that thought into our sensory experience via our ability to be conscious of it. None of it is real, and all of it is real. None of it is real because it is made up, and all of it is real because the physiological experience of our feelings is irrefutable.
This made me think about what is real? What we see in our day-to-day life is a very concrete world, yet physics tells us that everything is made up of atoms, and atoms are almost entirely made up of empty space. According to this article on Fact/Myth.com, “The Universe is Mostly Empty Space”, Atoms contain almost all of their mass in a tiny nucleus at the center of the atom. Surrounding the nucleus are electrons and protons that have little mass and take up almost no space. However, even the matter that makes up an atom is not made up of one solid thing. The nucleus, electrons, and protons are actually composites made up of quantum particles interacting with each other in the form of energy fields. The matter isn’t solid and the space isn’t really empty. It is all made up quantum particle energy fields. The author of the article Thomas DeMichele states, “Energy fields are actually the main thing happening in our universe.”
So on the subatomic level there are energy fields, but on the human level we experience solid matter. This reminds me of my twelfth grade English teacher drumming into my head the literary theme of appearance vs. reality. I see how this translates into life in general. The solidity of my desk looks real to me, but it is not really what is happening. When I touch my desk, I don’t touch the atoms of the desk. If I did, according to the above article, this would cause a small nuclear reaction. When I touch my desk what I feel is the friction from the electromagnetic force of my electrons pushing against the electromagnetic force of the electrons in the desk. In my reality I am feeling the desk, but in the reality of physics, I am feeling the force field of electron repulsion.
It occurred to me that our personalities can look real and fixed too, but really they are just made up of the force field of thought. We look like we are stuck in our ways, but really we are just creating our experience moment-to-moment via thought. Now, I may not be able to change the force field of what keeps a desk in the form of a desk rather than the form of a dog, but I do know how to shape shift thought. If I am able to see the transitory, illusory nature of thought, it makes it easier for me not to fuel and bring to life thoughts that cause me suffering. We create our reality by bringing the formless spiritual energy to life into form. Our experience, however, is not fixed. It is in fact infinite possibility.
That is what my work with clients is — to help them see that what looks true to them and what looks solid and real about the problems, challenges, or limitations they perceive is simply one perspective from their vantage point. But, there are infinite vantage points, and what looks like a problem from one perspective is a non-issue from another. Yes the desk I am sitting at feels solid. That is one perspective. Another deeper understanding of the desk is that is mostly made up of energy.
When I started to bring the thoughts of writer’s block to life that could have turned into a thing. My new problem that didn’t exist before, but now looks real. However, because it was fresh and not conditioned thought, it was easy to see that I was creating my experience of writer’s block internally. I saw the birth of writer’s block in my consciousness, and in seeing that I also saw it could just as easily cease to exist by letting those thoughts go. I didn’t need to make them mean anything about me and could move on.
I have other experiences that I create in the same way, but it is not as easy for me to see that I create those experiences and could just as easily uncreate them. Me being shy looks a lot more solid to me. It seems like that is just the way I am. I am a shy person. I am a quiet person. I am an introvert. However, there really is no static “me”. Yes, I have all of those qualities at times, but I also have plenty of other experiences that are the opposite. I can also be loud, vivacious, and extroverted.
The hopefulness in this is that even though we look like one solid personality that is fully formed, we actually create and re-create our personality moment-to-moment with our capacity to turn the formless energy of who we are into thought, and to bring that thought to life so it feels real. Underneath it all we are pure potential.
So when it comes to our personality frailties and weaknesses, rather than trying to fix what we have already created, why not simply go back to the source and allow something new to express. Rather than me trying to fix my negative thoughts that tell me I now have writer’s block. I just let those thoughts go and looked in the direction of where the thoughts were coming from to see what was next.
If I had focused on my newfound belief of having writer’s block, I am sure I could have found all kinds of evidence to prove it true. Then if I tried to do something with the belief like reframe it or look for the original childhood issue that this belief resonates with, I would have found even more evidence and made the belief look even more substantive and real. I can see how it would be easy for this thought to get traction and look like a “real” problem. Just like my desk looks solid, but it isn’t.
What helped me to see the ephemeral nature of who I think I am more clearly is I started to see more clearly the subatomic particles of my experience. As I understood a tiny bit of what Sydney Banks described regarding the interplay of the principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought, I got glimpses of how my personality is not real and solid. It is simply comprised of thoughts being brought to life with the aid of Mind and Consciousness. When I identify with these thoughts in a habitual way they give me what looks and feels like a consistent experience of myself. However, as I took my thinking more lightly the inconsistencies in the picture I put together about myself became more apparent. As a result, I started to feel freer.
In the greater experience of freedom I saw the possibility for me to have any thought and bring that forward as an experience. I also saw that just because I was having a certain experience in the moment, it didn’t mean anything about me. For example, if I feel insecure, that does not mean I am insecure. It just means I’m having an experience of insecurity in that moment because of the thoughts I am buying into.
I used to bring a lot more negative, sad, insecure thoughts to life in a consistent way. I had the experience of depression when I did this. Not only did I suffer as I lived in the feeling of those thoughts, but I also suffered because I thought the experience meant something about me. I thought it meant there was something wrong with me. I was abnormal, and consequently, not good enough.
When I saw my experience didn’t mean anything of those things, all it meant was that I was bringing my negative thoughts to life in the moment so that was the experience I was having — end of story — I saw I was just human. This is the universal experience of all humans. We experience what we think. There is nothing wrong with me, and I was not abnormal because I was feeling down and worthless. That was simply the by-product of my thinking. When my thinking changed my feelings changed.
Seeing this helped me to experience the wellbeing that was beyond my thinking. I was not replacing my negative thoughts with positive ones. Instead, I felt a truth that was beyond the content of my thoughts that helped me to be okay with where I was. I felt there is something more than just my personal thoughts.
That experience and feeling stays with me in such a way that I am less bothered by the content of my thinking. It is arbitrary what thoughts form from the potential within me. I don’t choose what thoughts I have. I do have some choice over what thoughts I focus on. That is freeing, but even more freeing for me is the experience of what is beyond my personal thinking — the feelings of love, peace, wellbeing, and wisdom that fill me up between thoughts, the soup of loving between the “I” of my personal thoughts. Both exist. We are particle and wave. We are form and formless. We are all of it.
Knowing we are both personal and impersonal helps me to find my personal thinking less bothersome. Am I anxious and neurotic? Yes. Am I happy-go-lucky and carefree? Yes. Am I the infinite potential of possible thoughts? Yes. I am the impersonal field of oneness at the same time as being the limited form of I.
Seeing this is what makes the difference. All of it is real and none of it is. Atoms are particles and waves. I can’t explain it, but I can feel the ebb and flow of personal and impersonal in my experience. The more I recognize both as true, the less bothered I am by my personal frailties. They are minimized once they are set within the context of the totality of who I am.
It is helpful to see our true nature so we can put the transitory frailties of our personalities that are really just habitual thoughts being brought to life in the moment within the context of the totality of who we are. It is like looking at the earth within the framework of the entire universe. Frailties shrink down to size pretty quickly when put into perspective. And with perspective, it is much easier not to be bothered by them.
After awhile of not being bothered by them and constantly bringing those thoughts into awareness, it is amazing how quickly new thoughts emerge and change happens. People go from feeling they can never stop a habit to letting it go. People, like me, go from being extremely self-conscious to not thinking much about themselves. People go from a fixed idea of who they are to seeing their personality is a reflection of their thoughts in the moment with an infinity of possible thoughts available to them, and that is freedom.
Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. Rohini facilitates personalized three-day retreats for individuals, couples, and professionals to help them connect more fully with their true nature and experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, rohiniross.com.