The Whole Person Blog: Week Two, Day Three, Part 1/2 - Observation, not interpretation
Interview with Dr. Mario Martinez:
Tuesday, January 7th, 2020
When it comes to change, we believe that if we're not taking action, we're not serious about it. This couldn't be further from the truth; in fact, it's an entirely uninformed statement. When it comes to change, I share a simple process I've developed: Awareness --> Accountability --> Action --> Agency. A quick glance at this model helps one see that action is not the most important step is in change; awareness is. Awareness is the foundation of transformation! However, the activities consistent with improving awareness tend to be undervalued, unappreciated, and misunderstood: journaling and meditation, mostly because we've been conditioned to associate action with success. These activities can feel like we're "fixin to get ready," completely unproductive, and a waste of time. Honestly, the biggest challenge is for the ego since these practices don't offer instant gratification, reassurance, or control.
There are two sides to transformation: Action & Contemplation. Ironically, New Year's Resolutions offer us great insights into what happens when these two are imbalanced. It's clear at this time of year; there is no shortage of action being taken to reach one's goals. I've come up with an equation to help my clients remember the importance of a balanced approach: While Action + Contemplation = Transformation, Action - Contemplation = Stagnation. Most resolutions fail due to a lack of contemplation! When we delay urgently engaging tactics, we create space for observation of the true nature of our challenges. Otherwise, we don't even really know what we're taking action on.
Dr. Mario Martinez shares a contemplative method that is the foundation of his life-changing work: "Before we can alter a belief that does not serve us well, we must question it at its horizon to defy our old predispositions. This questioning takes place in a contemplative state of calmness. The transition from an alert-interpretation state of awareness (characterized by beta brain waves) to a contemplative-observation consciousness (involving theta brain waves) facilitates the receptiveness and assimilation we need to redefine the implicit beliefs that drive our dysfunctional behavioral patterns. The key to reaching a contemplative state of serenity is to not try to relax! If you try to relax, most likely it will have the opposite effect because to "try" is to concentrate on a goal rather than to witness a process. Trust that you already experienced deep levels of calm when you were an infant, and forgot how to reenter that state only when you learned how to worry."
During the weekly YES meditations I offer, my goal is to help people rediscover their original goodness, who they are apart from the painful experiences of their past. I can tell them they are good, but their alert-interpretive minds, the one designed to question new information, will find ways to dispel what I'm saying, even though they want to believe it. Interestingly, when I help them rest through meditation, their minds are primed for learning and assimilation of new information. A lack of change is never a doing problem, it's always a seeing problem, and the only way to improve our levels of seeing is with an observant mind, a natural byproduct of contemplative activities.
"No problem can be solved by the consciousness that caused it." Albert Einstein