Posts Tagged ‘David Bohm’

Elephants in Rooms

March 31, 2012

The process of enculturation –  by parents, through classroom education and in peer groups – trains a person in rules regarding what is acceptable to speak about, and what is not. The information we receive is sometimes imparted openly, but I believe most of what we learn comes tacitly. Vibrations of approval, discomfort or annoyance register in our subtle bodies. Thus we learn. Most families, groups and individuals have variants in the rules, so we adjust as we go. When we say something that hits the force field of a rule barrier, this can feel like crossing one of those invisible fences used for animals. Zap; ouch. Note to self: avoid that territory. A lot of this occurs unconsciously.

I used to teach a Dialogue method developed utilizing theories articulated by physicist David Bohm. One of the exercises we employed to help move a group into authentic voicing and deeper listening was to have people draw a line down the center of a page, dividing it into a Left-Hand Column and a Right-Hand Column. Think of a recent conversation that contained some level of significance. On the right side of the page write down to the best of your memory what was actually spoken during the conversation. On the left, write about what was in your mind but remained unspoken for whatever reason; and then write what you imagine might have been in the other persons mind that remained unspoken. This is not to be presumptuous, as if we could actually know what is in the other’s mind. It is an exercise to help broaden attention to include what is unspoken in any given conversation, and sometimes to realize that much of what is “said” is not said aloud.

In practicing dialogue in a group, we encourage participants to speak a little more from what would normally remain in their left hand column. Those gathered learn to hold the tension and to suspend assumptions, judgments and opinions related to one’s “training” and listen more deeply into self and other.

In Jungian psychology this Right-Hand, Left-Hand Column technique is not articulated in the same terms, but I think psychoanalysis might be described as a safe place to empty out the Left-Hand column, to think out loud about what in other circumstances remains unspoken, and then to work with it. Psychoanalysis and dream work also help identify that much of what remains unsaid due to long years of training falls into the unconscious. We lose awareness that these thoughts, feelings or impressions were ever there. A person learns to focus on what is “appropriate,” what can be said, and too often forgets about the rest.

Two images come to me to describe the material that has fallen into the unconscious in such ways. One is that it becomes like the ghostly coachman, the one who is driving your chariot but who cannot be seen or related to. People are afraid of psychoanalysis in the same way as they are afraid of ghosts. But, these ghosts are there. Not talking about them doesn’t make them go away. We deny them to our detriment.

The other image that recently occurred to me regarding this material is that it is like what we call “the elephant in the room.”  Musing on this idea, a deep respect came over me for what an elephant is, and what it represents. They are ancient beings, it seems to me. Sacred. They hold wisdom and intelligence of the pre-verbal and pre-rational mind, as well as knowledge of this world. They are relational creatures, loyal, family and community oriented.

To regard the elephant in the room is to turn attention to what is ancient, wise and sacred. We tend to use this term with judgment, meaning that avoiding the elephant is due to dishonesty and being in denial. But what if, instead, we turn to the elephant in the room with interest, trust, respect, hope, curiosity, love, and with an open heart inquire into it? Who is it, and what does it want to tell us? Humans often have an instinctive skittishness and distrust when faced with what is unknown among us – like what is not known mostly will hurt or overwhelm us. But what if that big body just wants to love us, help us, heal us, play with us?

The “elephant in the room” can be among people or even inside someone, an internal, individual phenomenon – whatever is there that we avoid bringing to consciousness. What if we turn our attention to the elephants in our rooms?

I want now to commit to regarding the elephants newly. I want my teacher to be the elephant, to learn to regard the metaphorical elephant the way incarnated elephants regard us. With stillness. Alertness. Power. Tenderness. With those big eyes and long eyelashes. With beauty and apparent sweetness.

The week coming up is Holy Week in the Christian calendar. It commemorates events around the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. He was (and is) certainly an elephant in the room of traditional powers; what if He were regarded differently? This may be a good week to begin the elephant meditation.

Youth and Healing the Planet

July 24, 2011

For the last several days thoughts keep occurring to me about Youth, youth itself, as a vital power. More and more the direction culture is heading is to bring children into the world and immediately start their training for adulthood, as if youth is worth little more than providing time for such training. The intention to prepare babies to receive a strong education and a means for entering our social, political and economic structures begins practically before conception. Children know that, their own focus begins to go in that direction, sometimes largely bypassing the immense wisdom and glory of who they are, exactly as they are, in those childhood moments.  Surviving in the set up and pleasing adults gets most of the attention.

I know I quote Buckminster Fuller often, as it seems there is something he said on nearly every subject that illuminates it for me. He often mentioned the error in education that a child like himself, with a mind full of creative thoughts and ideas, was constantly told to “shut up and listen. It doesn’t matter what you think, listen to what I am telling you.” It makes me hurt every time I think about it.

I studied and teach the Dialogue method developed by physicist David Bohm. I have mostly been able to utilize this training only with adults, though I was thrilled to teach it in a college classroom for some years. Continually, however, I imagine how wonderful it would be if I could get 2nd graders talking together in intentional dialogue, learning to listen to each other thoughtfully, finding voice for their own perceptions and ideas,  feeling  respected and heard by each other as well as their teachers. Often any of us never tell a thought or impression until there is a context, an opening to find words for it. When it is spoken, that is true creation. As Bohm puts it something that was in the implicate order moves into the explicate order and that changes everything, even our physics.

I was a hippie child of the 60’s and 70’s during the years that I got to hang out with Bucky Fuller since he was a friend of my father’s. Bucky’s posture at that time regarding that puzzling and rebellious generation was “Let them talk! Listen to them! All of your corporate and political ideals are tragically oppressing and ruining our world. These kids don’t want to follow you there!” It took a lot of heat off those in our generation who were around him, and allowed us to listen to ourselves and each other differently. The words I just attributed to Bucky were my iteration of his message, but here are some of his own words from It Came to Pass-Not to Stay:

The top-gun, self-serving power structure
Also claims outright ownership
Of the lives of all those born
Within their sovereignly claimed
Geographical bounds
And can forfeit their citizens’ lives
In their official warfaring,
Which of psychological necessity
Is always waged in terms
Of moral rectitude
While overtly protecting and fostering their special self-interests.

To keep the conquered
Controllably disintegrated
And fearfully dependent
“They” also foster perpetuation or increase
Of religious, ethnic, linguistic,
And skin-color differentiations
As obvious conditioned-reflex exploitabilities.

Special-interest sovereignity will always
Attempt to monopolize and control
All strategic information (intelligence),
Thus to keep the divided specializing world
Innocently controlled by its propaganda
And dependent exclusively upon its dictum.

Youth has discovered all this
And is countering with comprehensivity and synergy.
Youth will win overwhelmingly
For truth
Is eternally regenerative
In youth.
Youth’s love
Embracingly integrates
Successfully frustrates
And holds together,
Often unwittingly,
All that hate, fear and selfishness
Attempt to disintegrate.

Thank you Bucky. What a mind, what a man, what a heart.

Watching C-Span the other night, proceedings in the British Parliament showed their government all stirred up over the Rupert Murdoch scandal. I looked at the room full of characters trying to sort the problem out and noticed that they mostly look to be in their 50’s and over, possibly there are a few in their 40’s.

And then I see news clips about the kids who are the new billionaires because of social media break-throughs they have designed, genius ideas that hook the world up differently. I find it captivating the that corporate guys are saying to the 25-year-olds “We’ll give you 6 billion dollars for this,” and the kids are saying “Nope, it’s not for sale.”

What if Parliament, government, corporations, every organization had a think-tank that only the really young could be involved in? Rather than wait for those minds to come up through the system so that by the time they are 40 their spirits are crushed, they are dumbed down, bummed out, burned out and medicated – what if we intentionally tap the resource of our youth? It guarantees unmatched energy, enthusiasm, creativity and raw power.  Why is this resource not more involved?

I am turning into an elder, now 60, and increasingly notice how irrelevant elders become in our culture, partly because everything is moving so fast. Our brains got formed before all of these challenges. There are certain things that only an elder with life experience can teach you. And there are other things that only the youth, born into the changing world, can teach us. We have to work together. Maybe mid-life crises wouldn’t be so extreme if more of the responsibility were spread out across the generations.

Surely there is a way to figure this out. Let’s ask a young person.

Re-creating the Brain

May 18, 2011

This morning I went to a meeting of a business networking community here in Asheville who meet every Wednesday morning at 8:00. They have an interesting concept, inviting one person of quality and integrity from each profession – one accountant, one realtor, one landscaper, one interior designer, and so on. Only one seat is available for that profession in this group. Each week they inform each other more about what they do, and all support each other, provide referrals, give recommendations, educate each other about business itself. There is a yearly fee and a requirement of attendance at these meetings for that time; if you can’t come you send someone to fill in for you and give your message. That’s the deal. It keeps the energy high and flowing, apparently. I saw it happening. I was invited and may become their psychologist if I choose to accept this mission.

Before moving on to what I feel interested to say about this experience, one bit of feedback I received after my presentation was notable. As I spoke I heard one woman whisper to the man next to her, “I like her!” I interrupted myself to say, “Thank you! I am really nervous talking to this group.” Meaning, I needed that feedback right now. Then I felt silly for interrupting myself, and for explaining that I was nervous. But after the session ended the woman who had brought me in told me that she thought the best moment of my whole delivery was when I said I was nervous. The rest of it, she said, comes and goes but that kind of authenticity spoke to people. She said she observed it.

Ok. I’m a psychologist exposing the machinations of the psyche, on-line, in the moment. I could breathe more deeply after realizing that actually was respected.

While there, listening to the various people speak – sweet, real, committed, passionate-about-their-work people, people who understand business, a language harder than Chinese to me – I thought I could feel actual cells in my brain re-orienting and readjusting. Maybe it was the 8:00 in the morning thing, as I am NOT a morning person, but something physical seemed to be happening inside my head. It was a sensory phenomenon.

I thought of David Bohm, the physicist’s, words. He explained that insight, new meanings perceived, actually change the physics of the brain, it’s chemistry and organization. In that, the physics of our world becomes a different reality. Something deep in the “implicate order”, as he described it, will shift which leads then to changes in the “explicate order” – external reality. Bohm explains at length how defended humans tend to be around letting this happen. He was a prophet, poet, meta-physician and philosopher as well as a scientist.

For me in this instance, people in suits who live in the real world to which I rarely feel adapted, being able to understand what I do, why I do it, want to help me, and that I might help them too, in business, not just in their heads – these new meanings were flooding my brain, changing it’s organization and chemistry. It was visceral.

Bohm said that “If the brain holds the old meanings, then it cannot change its state. The mental and the physical are one.” New perceptions re-create reality at a cellular level. He says we bring the “instincts of the jungle” to defend the old ideas, perceptions and reality. Why we do this is another subject, but he gets it.

Today, Wednesday May 18, 2011 – brain re-created. Check.
Now I am a depth psychologist and a business woman. Check.
Will I become a morning person? Can’t check that box yet.

Fear and Thought

December 2, 2010

David Bohm remarked that “Thought creates the world and then hides and says it didn’t do it.” The world is as we think it, but generally people tend to believe that the world is an objective reality and our thoughts merely reflect on and interpret it. Not so. As Shakespeare writes in Hamlet, “Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.”

Fear is a compelling emotion. It appears to want to protect us, and in its most primal sense it does. In the forest, when a predator appears and fear says “Run,” running is the best response to the command. Don’t think. Run!

Evolutionarily, however, the instinct to fear in the primal brain runs amok in present day circumstances, and reality becomes distorted because of it. Wiki leaks, Putin, Korea, economic statistics – just drawing from the news tonight – have one result if they are responded to through fear, and a different result completely if we think through them differently. Entire news programs are devoted to interpreting anything in the public eye through fear and mistrust. These can create a feeding frenzy for primal instincts that overwhelm thought.

Change begins with the individual, one of us at a time. Private fears have tormented me this day, and I see the damage that they can do. They act like they are merely reflecting the world, but actually have the power to create it just as they see it. Thinking in the present, seeing reality freshly as it presents itself can be subsumed by over-protective, fear-driven instinctual responses that have nothing to do with current events. Thought is a responsibility. As Buddha says, “With our thoughts we make the world.”

To catch and confront a fearful thought as it arises, whether personal or collective, requires consistent vigilance, and courage to relate to the lions of instinct with respect and love. New thoughts will arise from such encounters if they are handled deftly. Great instinctual powers then enter thought. Fear dissipates like the scary ghost that retreats when the light is turned on. Reality is re-created. The world is made new.

It Takes a Village

August 22, 2010

Yesterday I thought of the indigenous phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” My thought was, “It takes a village to do anything.” As physicist David Bohm, who developed a fascinating method and theories about dialogue said, “We are not meant to think alone.” We are meant to think together. It takes an assembly of perspectives to get the whole picture.

Lately I have been experiencing my need for others to do almost anything, like think through a question, or get through grief, or to manage some of the most basic practical issues in life. I have been alone a lot in the last six years. It is not working. I need others in my life, more and differently. We really do need each other. Regarding the heroic Western model of the solitary individualistic pioneer, I think we have developed out of tribal life in certain ways by following such a concept, but at its root it is insanity. I know it.

Teen Choice Awards, Dialogue of Amazing Talent!

August 9, 2010

I am so in love with the world. If I die tomorrow, somebody please tell whoever is in charge that those should be the words on my gravestone, please. Even though I don’t want a gravestone, I want whatever is the most environmentally advanced idea for how to move on at the time. It’s a desired epitaph though.

I got home from a day of it, turned on the news while I did chores, and heard that the Teen Choice Awards were on tonight. I’ve never known that they existed, so I turned them on to watch while I did e-mail and stuff. Oh my goodness. I love kids. I was a kid once, I birthed two, and I have taught in classrooms much of my life. This show is the voice of teenagers – who THEY vote for – for best music, actor, sports person, smile, hotness, whatever! I never realized someone had the brilliance to give them the vote in this tremendous way. Why should adults have all of the say in award shows? No one ever gave me such a vote when I was growing up.

There were 100,000 degrees of talent on this show. You have to have a young brain to keep up with it. Every 10 seconds a new talent appears and shows you what they can do, gloriously, for the next 10 seconds. I am so grateful I have a DVR because as an older person I need to use the feature of pause, rewind, slow down, take it in. But kids don’t need this. They get it already. They are so advanced. I love them!

I am trained in dialogue, a method taught by David Bohm the physicist, who suggested that we are not meant to think alone. Every different point of view has value. When we listen to all ways to see things with equal respect, not cancelling out any of them, put them all together, then as humans we are able to get the big picture. I see these kids being capable of holding so many points of view, so many genres, so many ethnic expressions, so many ways to broadcast love and passion, so much wild appreciation for diversity and one another. The future is in good hands.  I love the world. It is a great world. So much diversity, so much celebration of it.

Still Thinking about Thought

April 27, 2010

I do believe that thoughts create our reality. As David Bohm says, “Thought creates the world, and then hides and says it didn’t do it.” We look at that reality and think it’s just there, objectively, not that our thought created or could influence it. I’ve been observing  this for years, as a student of a spiritual teacher who taught very similar principles, as a student of the Dialogue method ingeniously developed by Bohm to help practioners become more aware of what thought is doing, and during doctral studies in depth psychology. It’s a habit of mine to observe thought and connect dots, like people watch sports or the weather, I watch this.

A  lot of teaching is going on now in various books and circles about how to manifest through thought. Great that people are learning more and more about this, but I get concerned about what is left out in much of the teaching. So much of thought is unconscious, most of it is. There is thought we inherit from ancestors that comes through family lines; thoughts that are gathered from experience that is often misinterpreted but from which conclusions are drawn and become our certainties without re-evaluation; thoughts that are created collectively which are very hard to sort out from our personal thinking. To change thought is a big job. It requires effort, energy, motivation, practice and help. I believe it requires practice with others, with those who are willing to catch us in unconscious thought, or in group effort such as spending time in intentional dialogue. Changing conscious thought is hard enough, changing what we are completely unaware of takes special attention.

Then of course probably the best medicine is “no thought.” As often as we can get to that place – to just feel, don’t think, that is probably when the most powerful shifts become possible.

I wish people would spend more time thinking together about thought, getting to the root of it. I got to teach about it in a college classroom in Los Angeles with rooms full of students from multiple countries and backgrounds. I miss that. Dialogue work takes committment, but can be as exhilarating, intoxicating, creative and astonishing as anything ever gets. To deeply change thought is to change everything.

Thinking and Thought

April 26, 2010

David Bohm, the physicist, pointed out the distinction between thought and thinking. Thoughts occur to us, go through our head, a lot of what occurs in our life is a result of what we have thought. Actually in Buddha said everything that happens to us is because of our thoughts. Bohm says thoughts are past tense. Thoughts have already been thought, and come to us like oxygen – they are in the air. If they are in our heads it doesn’t at all mean that we are the author of them or that they necessarily apply to how we would view and create the world if we were thinking instead.

Thinking is a verb, it produces fresh thought and unfolds new meaning. I have been catching myself lately going over a lot of thoughts. I want to think instead. I have thinking to do to re-create what thought has done in my world.