If two movements feels daunting, spread them out over two weeks. it will be much more valuable to your personal growth to progress at a pace that feels sustainable. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the “have to get it done” mentality. Repeating a week isn’t failure, it is self-care and the desire to have the best experience possible. Make sure you have fun. Be curious and feel for the unexpected. Changing your world requires that something changes; make it you, make it this week.
The next time you find yourself with tension, stress, or overwhelm, ask yourself if you can continue without it. Is it necessary or required? Will any of the existing components change if you choose not to be tense, stressed, or overwhelmed?
Here is another excerpt from Jeff’s book –
If you believe that stress exists, you probably do things to relieve stress: exercise, medication, meditation, alcohol, food, sex, or therapy. So, in effect, stress is draining your energy and then you are exerting more energy trying to relieve it, creating a double deficit.
What if stress didn’t exist until you created it? What if you are using stress like a thermostat, pressure release valve, or energy regulator? What if you create stress just so you can do something else to relieve it?
What if the primary benefit of stress was to maintain and sustain a habitual range?
What if you could learn to devalue your stressors and eliminate that holding of energy? And most importantly, what if all the energy you are expending worrying about stress, being stressed and relieving stress could be spent on other things, things that bring you happiness, fulfillment, and success?
So, my next question became why would I choose to be stressed? What benefit did I gain from being stressed or from the many other non-optimal decisions I made? How did it serve me to be angry, sad, fat, tense, lazy, or spacey? How did the less than stellar components of my personality play into this? How did I benefit from being sarcastic, irreverent, judgmental, domineering, dismissive, manipulative, untruthful, and unkind? I realized all these things required energy expenditures, and if I was burning energy I was less energized afterward.
The next time you find yourself with tension, stress, or overwhelm, ask yourself how it is benefiting you. Is it necessary or required for success or achievement? Will any of the existing components be harder if you choose not to be tense, stressed, or overwhelmed?
From Jeff’s book –
Dysfunctions deplete. My dysfunctions and personality shortfalls were ways I diminished my vitality. Somehow, I had judged myself to be over-vitalized and decided I needed to be less.
I made non-optimal choices because optimal began to feel uncomfortable.
I am designed to absorb energy, to take in my environment. I interact by absorbing the stimuli present. I am an infinite sponge, and if I don’t squeeze, I will continue to absorb. I have the innate ability to take in more than I expend, which increases my vital reserves. I can be in a constant state of expansion!
As I take in my environment, it becomes a part of me and then I get bigger. At some point, bigger begins to feel untenable. My mind fashions an image of who I am, a fictional boundary of my capability and capacity. When I approach this imagined threshold, my mind starts looking for ways to re-conform to habitual ranges and limits that pre-exist. I strive for the familiar because I experience it as safe. Familiar becomes habitual. Habitual is comfortable. Comfortable is survivable. I have a 100% survival rate from the past.
The next time you find yourself with tension, stress, or overwhelm, ask yourself how it is limiting you. How is it hindering your happiness, fulfillment, success, and achievement? Which of the existing components will be easier when you choose not to be tense, stressed, or overwhelmed?
From Jeff’s book –
I came to realize that I have tension, injury, disease, suffering, and dysfunction because AS I reach an intolerable level of vitality, I look to regain my comfort zone. I came to believe a majority of my personality deficits serve to deflate me back to what is habitual and familiar. I took this awareness and began to look for confirmation in my environment and in others. I used the idea of excess vitality as a filter to see the world. It dawned on me that the biological imperative of homeostasis had (has) been co-opted by my mental and emotional systems.
A significant portion of my personality is utilized to limit potential, reduce options, and restrict growth.
See if you can feel yourself transition as you start to get tense, stressed, or overwhelmed. Catch yourself in the act. And then see if you can convince yourself to choose differently. Smile, soften, shake like a wet dog, and then go about your day.
From Jeff’s book –
The conclusions I came to:
The burgeoning vitality that can lead to dysfunction is the foundation of our existence. We eat, we breathe, hear, smell, taste and feel. We listen and empathize. We sense the emotions and receive the ideas of others. All these things bring energy into our system. When our subconscious mind judges us to be overfull (uncomfortably fulfilled) it starts to look for ways to purge, vent, or compress us to a place of less-than-overfull, back to what we are accustomed to, back to the habitual. Not necessarily good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, successful or unsuccessful, happy or unhappy: just typical. There is a range to the typical, a zone of comfort. It may be fantastic or it may be a place of unhappiness or pain, anger or sadness, injury or disease, addiction, or affliction.
Since it is typical, we get comfortable there, and it becomes a habit and our default script. When we absorb more stimuli than is typical, when possibilities and potential increase our reserves out of this familiar range, our mind begins to look for ways to vent this excess energy. Not because it is healthy or a biological necessity, but because our minds have associated “familiar” with safe and “unfamiliar” as unsafe. As we reach the edge of our comfort zone, our dysfunctions are triggered as our minds try to maneuver us back to the habitual.
Feel for the times when you habitually or reflexively assume a mental position or posture. How does your mindset change as your environment or the people in it change? Look for how you habitually change your thinking or ability to think clearly as situations fluctuate.
From Jeff’s book –
As we look to reconfirm familiar ranges, it requires a dissipation of our excess vitality. We vent … with anger, sadness, injury, suffering, disease, jealousy, gossip, over-eating, under-eating, addiction, judgment, projection, subjectification, demand, blame, stress, Netflixing, over-exercising, etc. All these require and bleed energy, leaving us less vital.
Familiar and comfortable aren’t necessarily healthy. Smoking can be both familiar and a comfort. It is not healthy.
How we vent, our psychological and physiological deficits, becomes the WAY not the why.
Discomfort is a sign that there are more stimuli present than you judge you are able to digest. Stimuli are energy. Energy fuels vitality. Too much stimuli triggers your mind into judging your present vitality as undesirable.
Your mind connects undesirable with unsafe and looks to regain familiarity. When your mind recognizes familiar patterns of expansion, it will begin to resist proactively. It encourages you to be stubborn, withdrawn, or reactive. Not because resistance is healthy but because it is familiar.
Think about the excuses you create to delay or resist exercise. None of your stories are healthy; they are dogmatic and expedient. It is more comfortable to cycle into old patterns of resistance than it is to pedal a bicycle.
Most of us have an area of our lives (or a segment of an area) where we are habitually sub-optimal. This book addresses the pre-causal states that lead and enable those limitations. These are the places where you limit your success or actively fail, the areas of your personality where you distance and diffuse, where you restrict intimacy and deflect connection.
Healthy growth and adaptation require healthy discomfort. You gain strength, flexibility, and fluidity through adaptation. Your bodies (mental, emotional, and physical) will try to adapt to healthy discomfort, to expand your range and capacity to include your current accumulations and expenditures.
You increase your capacity and capability by tolerating healthy discomfort.
Feel for the times when you habitually or reactively assume an emotional configuration (I am happy, sad, frustrated, jealous, stupefied, etc.). How do your emotional labels change as your environment or the people in it change? Be curious why you habitually change as the situations you are in fluctuate. Wonder if it is necessary and be curious as to what you could do instead?
Your personality is the combination of your habits. It is not “who you are.” Your personality reflects what you typically do. It isn’t hard wired; it is habit wired.
Change your habits and you will change your personality.
Your dysfunctions, addictions, ailments, drama, and stories are the ways you maintain a limited presence. They provide ways to diffuse the energy your subconscious mind believes is unsafe.
When you challenge your familiar patterns (what I call comfort zones in the above excerpts), you give yourself an opportunity to make different decisions. As you consistently make different decisions, you change your habits. As your habits change, you change, bit by bit and piece by piece. Change and growth are a trajectory, not a goal.
“Each year one vicious habit discarded, in time
might make the worst of us good.”
Benjamin Franklin, Poor
Richard’s Almanack (1738)
When you feel any strong reactive emotion, it is usually because you have allowed something or someone to push you past your ability to stay kind, generous, and empathetic.
You get too something and you do something. You find yourself at the edge of a cliff and something sends you over the edge.
As you reach the edges of your familiar range, you get triggered because your subconscious mind is trying to bully you back to a level that it thinks is acceptable, not safe or healthy but away from your edges. It wants you to purge energy until you are deflated back to something that falls within your typical and familiar levels.
Feel for the times when you habitually or reflexively assume a physical posture. How do your soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, organs) change as your environment or the people in it change? Look for where you tense or relax as situations fluctuate. Under what conditions does your physical system feel safe enough to begin to rejuvenate?
Homeostasis is your physical body’s predisposition to stay balanced within a typical range. What becomes typical is not necessarily healthy. Your subconscious mind is primarily concerned with survival, not growth. If your body were great at prioritizing health over comfort, you would never get fat or lazy. If you get fat, it is because your mind prioritizes fat storage ahead of metabolic efficiency.
You get lazy because your subconscious mind prioritizes complacency over fitness. The same thing can happen with emotions, relationships, or beliefs. You get into dysfunctional ruts because you fall into your familiar diffusions and distractions. You compensate by bleeding energy in non-beneficial or non-efficient ways.
Compensations include mental and emotional things like stress, blame, resignation, jealousy, frustration, impatience, disconnection, anger, sadness, grief, awe, excitement, detachment, and any variety of fear. Compensations will be anything that you do so that you will feel less uncomfortable. They will be anything that deflates you. If you do something that leaves you feeling less vitalized, it is probably a compensation.
Physical compensations include tension, addictions, food, nail biting, foot tapping, gesturing, sex, exercise, and napping. Yes, even napping.
Each of your compensations will burn energy and return you to a range that is typical, habitual, and to some degree, manageable. Compensations will feel safe.
These safe ranges are fictitious (we’ll get into that more in later lessons). As you get close to the edges of your familiar range; your mental, emotional, and physical bodies prepare to react, compensate.
When your subconscious mind believes that you are getting too something, it tries to convince you to do something. What you do are your compensations. Compensations are how you shrink, puncture, squash, or reduce the energy you are feeling.
To understand your dissipations, distractions, and compensations, get to know your physical, emotional, and mental too points!
Compensations may be dysfunctions on their own or just the means to an end. And remember, this isn’t about good and bad, right, or wrong, or judging your personality, dysfunctions, and compensations; it is about gaining the awareness that your energy and vitality are being compromised.
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot,
and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
George Carlin, Carlin on Campus (1984)
You can learn to discern your mental and emotional too points. You can become aware of what it feels like to approach your too edges. Elevating and expanding your sensory awareness will allow you to discern when you approach the edge between what is typical and familiar and what is typically and familiarly uncomfortable. It will feel as if your energy is ramping up. As you feel an edge approaching, choose a beneficial action before you fall into habitual reaction (which is usually less than beneficial).
Stopping at the edge of the cliff is much better than kicking spastically and screaming manically on the way down.
As you get better at identifying the paths that lead to the edge of your cliffs, you can see the paths approaching and start looking for other paths … that lead to places without cliffs.
Square Breathing, Layer One, Level Two
Note: This movement includes a contraction and relaxation of the perineum. The perineum (for our purposes) consists of the muscles and fascia (connective tissue) between your sexual organ and your anus. This movement is the most challenging for our members. It requires you to keep your focus out of your head and in your low belly. A high percentage of people are triggered by this. For some, it seems impossible, hard to relax the belly and contract the perineum simultaneously, and others find that it sends their minds into overdrive or panic. Stick with it. Don’t make it a big deal. If you are finding it hard with your perineum, use one or both of your thigh muscles (quadriceps) instead. Once you get it with your leg muscles, try again with your perineum.
Step 1 – Sit comfortably (Chair, floor, or sofa, but be comfortable. If you are in a chair, don’t rest your elbows on anything, let them hang. Posture is important but secondary to being relaxed.)
Step 2 – Take a Current30 (Spend 30 seconds being aware of your current situation, environment, disposition)
Step 3 – Begin Exhaust/Purge Breathing (Inhale deeply and exhale with mild force. As you inhale encourage yourself to relax. As you exhale, feel yourself venting tension) Continue for 30 seconds focusing on relaxing your face, neck and shoulders with each compelled exhale.
Step 4 – Sequential Relaxation (Normal but deep breathing) As the name implies, consciously relax your body as you breathe. Relax your feet, then your calves, thighs, hips and low belly. Relax your hands, forearms and upper arms/shoulders. Relax your abdomen, diaphragm, chest, neck and head. Relax your whole body. The key here is to move from one body part to the next focusing you attention and intention on each.
Step 5 – Take a mental and emotional inventory. Look for habitual patterns of emotional posturing and mental tension. Search for mental images and beliefs. Unwind predispositions and presumptions. Let yourself relax, melt, and get fluid.
Step 6 – Gently contract your perineum and then inhale for a count of four (contracting the perineum is the initiating movement. It is done before you start your inhale.)
Step 7 – Maintain the static contraction of the perineum as you hold your breath for four counts.
Step 8 – Relax your perineum and then exhale for a count of four. (Relaxing the perineum is the initiating movement. Relax before you allow yourself to exhale.)
Step 9 – Gently contract your perineum and begin the square breath sequence again. Repeat for several minutes.
Step 10 – This is a foundational movement for some work we will do later but it is very powerful. If you find yourself releasing emotions, try to continue and allow the emotions to flow. If you get mentally agitated, soften your skepticism, have faith that you are firmly in the learning curve and continue.
Why it Matters –This will develop your core energy centers. Martial artists and enlightened athletes use the low belly energy as the center and initiating point for their power and movement. It will do the same thing for you. This is the first of many movements that will help to unleash and harness your primal life force.
Everyday Usability – This movement and others like it to follow will help you increase your focus and reduce external distractions. Internal complexity increases focus. External complexity increases distraction. Use this example to simplify your external input and increase your internal input. You will be more energized, focused, and productive.
Progression – The next level of Square Breathing will add another layer of complexity, voicing an affirmation while doing the above movement. The affirmations are our second most triggering movement.
Sensation Awareness – Layer One, Level Two
We are going to continue to explore the world of transition: the gross and the subtle and we are taking our show on the road.
Step 1 – Throughout the day, in different circumstances, feel for times when things feel like too much.
Step 2 – When you identify your too points, pay attention to what you felt like before and after. Make a list.
Step 3 – We have a tendency to focus on the aftermath, but the details of the before offer much more insight.
Step 4 – When you get a few minutes, review your list (or your mental list if you didn’t actually make a list).
Step 5 – Look for commonalities. What attributes do your too points all have? What was your typical reaction?
Step 6 – In hindsight, could you have maintained your composure? How would the outcome have been different?
Step 7 – Assuming you could have maintained your composure, why didn’t you?
Step 8 – Examine your answer to step 7. Spend some time contemplating.
Step 9 – See if you can find the false justification and fear in your answer.
Step 10 – Look for blame, expectation and a demand that someone or something be different.
Why it Matters –The too points you have discovered so far are the tip of the iceberg and you are the Titanic. As you begin to feel your too points and chip away at them, others will begin to emerge. Right now, they are overshadowed by the more obvious ones. You will eventually chip away at smaller and smaller too points until your icebergs turn into this Hawaiian treat.
Everyday Usability – Your too points are fiction. They are a soft edge, the places where your fears up level. When you start to feel one of your too points signal, realize the signal is drama created by your subconscious mind. Too points are fantasy that your mind wants to treat as reality. Take a minute and ask yourself if you are actually at a place of overwhelm or if you are just uncomfortable and then make a choice. If you are at a place of healthy discomfort, tolerate it and your system will adapt. If you are at a place of unhealthy discomfort, make a decision to move, act, and improve your situation.
Progression – The next level of Sensation Awareness is more physical involving isometric and isotonic movements as an analogy for resistance.