In the late ’90’s I was writing every morning, following some guidelines set by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. In 2000 an insight was gifted to me that condensed these writings down to three words: just be it. For me it was an opening. I went on to start a consulting business under this name, trademarked it in 2002, and set about promoting this mantra as a way to develop greater awareness to our experience of the universe. It has worked beautifully over the years to help me and others move into the mind of ‘no thought’. As a specialist in language and interpersonal communications it became clear to me that my best performance came when surrendered from the chatter in the mind. Too often I had been challenged to action (doing) before aligning my performance with the whole body/mind. I had bought into the concepts and identities linguistically created in my mind. It created comparative thoughts, judgments, striving and competition that inevitably threw me off balance. The thought of ‘me’ separated from the activity, environment, person, etc., fed a resistance to the freedom of the moment. And relaxing the mind from mental chatter, stilling the linguistic monologue in my mind, inevitably resulted in a deeper awareness to the moment that stretched the edge of performance. ‘Just Be’ is curious, forever open to the surprise of the next moment.
It’s about witnessing what comes up directly, taking the story out of the moment. The non-discursive mind finds an aliveness and beauty that’s let go of the linguistic thought process. I realized most of us haven’t touched this stillness. Yet, the more I spoke with people at the highest levels of performance, whether in religion, music or sport, they consistently spoke to this surrendered state. They also noted this sense of ‘just being’ in full awareness to the sensory/perceptual experience outside of the separation caused from language. This surrender of language/thought created from the subject/object divide went beyond just sensory/perceptual awareness. The stilling of thought created a portal to a bigger belonging. It was like discovering something very deep that takes the concept of ‘you’ out of the story. Stepping out of the story was where I found the surprise of ‘just being’, fully discovering the aliveness of the moment. Without mental labels, without the personal relationship, there was stillness that enhanced the awareness of the moment’s precious unfolding. I had read about the wisdom in not taking things personally, but didn’t fully get it until I stepped free from my limited notion of ‘person’.
Today, I do what I can to help people touch this stillness. No doubt, we can’t stop thought, nor would we want to. Yet, we need relief from the incessant chatter in our minds. The brain is continually trying to make sense of things, categorizing and labeling, taking on opinions of knowing vs. not knowing. Yet, this process is about making space to surrender the thoughts we’ve become so attached to. It’s about setting time to witness how the thoughts bubble up, how they can carry us away from the moment, and how, when we just let them go, we experience a freedom and aliveness that feeds our vitality. From the field of General Semantics, it’s the wisdom in knowing we only do what we can to create a map of the territory, humbled in awareness to the fact we can never ‘know’ the territory. It’s about taking this wisdom beyond “I know that” which has caused so much conflict amongst us. It’s about developing the courage and confidence to meet the surprise of the moment, no matter what, holding a balanced posture. I tell people I doubt I’d still be in this body had it not been for this practice. It’s served me well in the hospice of friends and family as they’ve let go their bodies. It tempers my fear when meeting extreme boardsport conditions, performing music, working with prison inmates, or having a difficult conversation with my wife. It goes a long way in building my confidence in living a life of moderation. It relieves me from pain in the body and mind. I know, that no matter what, I can just be, this moment to the next arising moment, filled with joy for the opportunity to participate.
This practice of ‘just being’ had captured my attention in the study of General Semantics, transpersonal psychology, various spiritual traditions and in communications from some of our most influential artists. In 1972 my main undergraduate thesis was a comparative analysis of General Semantics, Zen Buddhism, Christian mysticism, Maslow’s self actualization work and absurd theatre. I went on to graduate work in the study of communication disorders and psychology. I was particularly interested in speech fluency issues influenced by ‘our anticipatory struggle responses.’ This work focused on having the speaker put full attention to sensory/perceptual awareness of the speech process, letting go thoughts of impending difficulty. I practiced in this field for ten years, going further into the study of speech, language, and the study of how our language influences our experience in the world. For four years I went back to teach at the university I did my undergrad work at. Still pursuing the study of the ‘stilled mind’ I formed a group dedicated to quieting the movement of mind and body. Practicing the stilling of the mind has been a lifelong practice for me, but it wasn’t until 2000 that I discovered the effectiveness of the mantra, ‘just be’.
Today I work with any who are looking for that portal to freedom, peace and peak performance. I’m particularly interested in seeing how a stilled mind seems necessary for a balanced body. I’ve integrated these interests in the study of sitting and moving postures, with emphasis upon stand up paddle boarding and yoga. Personally, I think our performance in most actions would deepen and improve with this practice. Current research is showing the health benefits from giving periodic relief from the verbal mind. We know real dialogue can’t happen without full surrender of our linguistic based beliefs. In all my years of living and working with those who practice this process of engaging the present moment free from thought, none have said their life got worse from the practice. Actually, putting deeper awareness into the un-manifested nature of the moment affects what we do manifest. When we’re rooted in the depths of ‘just being’ we touch a confidence that’s outside the conceptual limits of time and space. Without the division of subject/object from language and thought form, love/compassion just bubbles from no form to form. There is no ‘trying’. Many have written about the nature of true love describing it as looking upon something free from the boundaries of thought. It’s where the magic happens even in what appears to be the simplest of actions. Brother David calls this ‘great fullness’.
“… everyone has the capability to go beyond the ordinary body and mind and be fully present in impermanence with the whole body and mind. Then ignorance, desire, and suffering all disappear. That is the freedom we are seeking, the pure and clear state of existence where nothing is missing, the place where all we can do is just be. Then, from that place, truth comes up.” from Each Moment is the Universe.