flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘Alan Watts

Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Motion

David Bohm‘s concept of “Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Motion.” is so hard to understand for we western-raised psychologists.

David Bohm was a American quantum physicist who got himself into trouble by refusing to testify to the Non-American Activities (McCarthy) hearings.  After that he came to live and work in London.

Implicate Order

Bohm emphasized that nothing exists in this world except when we pay attention to it.

Did you get that? Touch your computer screen. It doesn’t exist unless you see it and touch it.

No, that’s not what it means, though that’s often what people say it means. He doesn’t mean that it is “all in our mind”. He doesn’t mean that what is in our mind is selective either.

Think of the thought as real. And then think that we are its host, so to speak. The thought is not ours. Nor is it make believe. Nor are things make believe.

But we only see, or perceive the thoughts that arrive, and not everything arrives.

Everything is connected

When a thought arrives, it is not us. Yet is in us. The world has arrived in us. The thought and the world are not separate. And nor are we separate from the world!

We are all interconnected and nothing, not any one of us, or anything, can be interpreted out of its context. Every thing is as much part of is context as it is apart.

Separating the whole into the parts is not universal

Other cultures get this. We are very proud that we don’t. Our science is based on separating things from their context.

Listen outside your tunnel vision

But I want you to try it.

When you are feeling stressed, which is right now, close your eyes and think outside the tunnel vision of your will. Listen. Listen for the furthest sound that you can hear.

I did that this morning for the first time in long time. I heard the birds. I heard the industrial din of the telephone exchange two houses away.

And I felt relaxed.

Imagine as David Bohm the physicist says. Imagine as Alan Watts the philosopher said. Imagine that you are one with the world.

Does the world suddenly seem more possible because you are working with the implicate order rather than against it?

Try it. Try the physical exercise (from author Paolo Coelho btw who is on Twitter with the same name).

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Carpe Diem or Slow Down and Smell The Roses?

I think Alan Watts might have decried Carpe Diem.  Seize the day!  He would have teased us for being in hurry and not savoring the moment.

Living in The Now is So Very Hard to Do

Living in the now, living mindfully, is very hard for Western-reared people.  Though we are here, now, we constantly worry about what happened last year, last month, last week, yesterday.  And when we are not occupying ourselves with our past, we worry about the future.  I must do this.  I must prevent that!  We have no time left for now.

We are also pretty suspicious about living now.  It seems self-indulgent to just stop and enjoy my coffee.   I rather suspect that we in the West interpret being mindful to living what Seligman pleasurably, as opposed to living with engagement and meaning. We are obsessed with children eating marshmallows, or not, as the case may be.  The reality is that we are obsessed with marshmallows!

We Desperately Want to Live in The Now

Alan Watts’ philosophy challenges us because it is alien to us.  But we seek it.  The idea of picking three tasks to do a day in an agile sprint or a personal kanban is a bid, I think, to justify our deep need to pay attention to what we are doing.

3 Videos on Alan Watts Speaking about Play & Work

I was brought up within a Western frame of thinking so I will stop here and embed the videos.  Each is about 10 minutes long, so maybe budget 40 minutes.  Know that you are a child of this age and that you will find it hard to block 40 minutes and to sit still that long.  Make some coffee, find a comfortable chair, put a pen and pad next to you  for the extraneous thoughts that will pop into your mind, and take the opportunity to relax ~ to deeply relax in the company of a man who knew how to enjoy life.

Hat-tip:  These videos were posted on YouTube by Broodbox

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance & the financial crisis

Over the last one -and-a-quarter years, since the run on Northern Rock, I’ve been making a concerted effort to understand the credit crunch, the financial crisis and the recession.  The nature of understanding big, bad events is that we are so busy trying to understand them that we have little time to reflect.

Typically, we follow a five stage process.

  • First, we deny the crisis either saying “I’m OK – it doesn’t affect me” or conversely ranting “This can’t be happening.”
  • Then we move on to anger, when we are quite clear we are not to blame and that someone else such as politicians and bankers should be punished for getting us in to our mess.
  • When we are a bit further along, we work out what will stay the same in our lives and what we can can cut out.
  • The next stage is to resign ourselves to our mess dragging on for twenty years or so,  and we are actually secretly relieved because if the mess is that big, there is nothing you and I, ordinary Joe citizen, can do about it.
  • And eventually we begin to dig beneath the surface of the crisis and, in this case, set about upgrading our financial know-how and skills.

Where are you?  And where are the people around you?

My job as a psychologist

I have a page where I store good, accessible explanations of how we got into the financial crisis and I will expand it to include the financial know-how that you and I should have.

Being a psychologist though, I think it is my job to bring to your attention key psychological ideas that equip you for understanding the recession and the ways we react to it.

  • The first psychological idea in this post is described in the at the beginning.  We often respond to bad news in five rough stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  We go through these stages when we hear of the sudden death of a loved one.  And we are going through similar stages as we get our heads around the idea that our financial system has been subject to a the equivalent of a major earthquake.
  • The second psychological idea in this post is that objective knowledge matters.  Positive psychology emphasizes that our attitude to a problem makes a big difference.  It does, and I will return to that in other posts.   But objective information matters too.  It is foolish to pretend that a large box isn’t heavy.  We are much better off when we understand the principle of levers.  We do need to take charge of our education about the financial system.  We clearly did not understand it well enough to play our role as informed voters, wise buyers and sellers of stocks and shares, and savvy consumers of mortgages and credit cards.
  • The third psychological idea is the one I wanted to highlight today because I think it will be key to the mental housekeeping required to come to terms with the recession.

In the west, we have a weird idea that time is linear

Of course, we ‘know’ that yesterday was before today and today comes before tomorrow.  Unfortunately our separation of time into yesterday, today and tomorrow, has some peculiar side effects.   This works in two ways.

  • In good times, we spend like mad and rack up debt.   We take ‘Carpe Diem‘ or ‘seize the day’ far too far.   Tomorrow features insufficiently in our thinking about today, and when tomorrow comes, we are in a mess.
  • Equally, in bad times, we look ahead, see a diminished tomorrow, and we feel dejected.  In short, we bring tomorrow far too much into today.

This inability to act appropriately in time is an inability to ‘give unto Ceasar’ or to accept that ‘for everything there is a season’.  The net effect is that we enjoy life a lot less.  We also rack up unhealthy deficits and one day we wake up very disappointed with our lives and where we have taken ourselves.

And then we are into the five stage process I described at the outset. This cannot be happening. It is not my fault.  OK, I will compromise.  Oh, this is impossible.  And then ultimately: OK, I’d better get on and understand this.

Are you acquainted with philosopher Alan Watts?

At the end of this post is a video presentation, about 3 minutes long, that accompanies the late English philosopher, Alan Watts, talking about the way we confuse time.

He begins “you get into kindegarten, then you get into first grade  .  .   .”  And ends, life “was a musical thing and you were supposed to dance or sing while the music was being played”.

Do watch it!

I grew up in a competitive culture so this resonated with me.  I have long protested that we should let 3 year olds be 3, and 18 years olds be 18.  Preparing for the next year is part of a 3 year old’s experience but it is not all of their task.  And being 3 should never be dreary.  Nor should being 84!

Recessions are simply part of life

Like preparing for a test or examination, they are there to be enjoyed (!) along with all the other activities that come at the same stage.

It takes time to work through the five stages of our reaction to bad news.  And we work through at different paces.  So we need to be patient with ourselves and each other.  But we also do need to resolve not to become stuck at any stage.

We may be in for a long and difficult time in this financial crisis.  What I am suggesting is that we sing and dance to the music nonetheless!

Come with me!

Here is the link to this great presentation accompanying Alan Watts.  Do enjoy it and have a good weekend!  There is a season for everything!

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Learn to think like your tutors

When I went off to university, my father told me that I was going to learn to think like my tutors. That comment puzzled me for a long while. I had thought that I was going to think for myself. But of course that is what university does teach you – to follow a discipline. To give a simple example, I can add 5c to 5c and tell you that you have 10 c, or I can teach you how to count, and how to add. You can now think for yourself but following a schema that is also taught to others. It’s good. We can solve more problems, and we can communicate with each other.

Learn that there may be better ways to think about the world

The second thing we learn at university, if it is well run, is that many of the beliefs we grew up with are severely limiting. If our university did indeed ‘expose’ us to the universe, we spend the rest of our lives quite unsurprised when someone in the room presents a view that contradicts ours. Indeed,  we learn to welcome such surprises. They are not only refreshing in their novelty, they also broaden the puzzles we can solve and the people we communicate with readily. Foreign travel can achieve the same effect but without a tutor to interpret and structure, the experience can be hit-and-miss.

Learn that we are learning a system that we might replace eventually

From time-to-time, professions are faced with a paradigm shift. Physicists had a paradigm shift when Einstein moved beyond the physics of Newton that most of us learned at school. Whole professions are faced with a new way of thinking.

When I learned about Kuhn and paradigms in my first year at university sitting in Lecture Room 5 and day dreaming intermittently out the windows across the College Green and the Science Faculty to the skyscrapers in the city four miles away, I never thought that every thing I was working so hard to learn would be subject to one of these seismic changes.

First steps in the new paradigm for psychology

After I posted on the vocabulary of psychology, a philosopher friend of mine pointed me to Alan Watts on You Tube. Here is a link to a 15 minute explanation on vocabulary and how it is simply a schema we have adopted. The video begins talking about time and ends with this idea: is this a fist, or am I fisting.

To understand happiness, we have to think in terms of “happinessing” – as actions of ours. I’ll leave you to the video.

PS I won’t embed the video – it is very laborious to embed video in WordPress. The link will get you there just as fast.

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