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Created by Dieter Schneider 2007

Excerpts from what has been written so far . . .


I have begun writing the Power of Process. Here is some of what I have done so far.

from Chapter 2 . . .

Maybe It’s Not Just About Me

To believe that you need what you don't have
is a definition of insanity . . .

Byron Katie

            Maybe part of the problem is due to the fact that we grow up in the West with the idea that everything is about us, the individual, rather than about community and how we fit in to the systems all around us. We are taught that we should always strive to be happy, always feel good, and to discard people in our lives who we feel make us feel bad about ourselves.
            This attitude may do no greater harm than with how we perceive our relationships. Some people look at relationships as a for-the-moment-thing, something to be done until the next one comes along. Unless your partner makes you feel happy all the time, many people believe that their relationship is in trouble and then they start looking for the next partner. The part of the traditional marriage vow that says “for better or for worse” has little meaning to some in today’s feel good society.
            Recognition of the processes of life may be most critical in relationships.  For example, the way some people perceive the phases of a relationship is filled with misunderstandings. I have met people who feel that it is natural for a relationship to begin with tremendous attention and consideration being paid to each other but in a few years, for that attention to fade and for the couple to lead separate lives.  Carried to the extreme, the couple could even have separate rooms of the house and never interact physically or sexually.
            I was at a party for a newly engaged couple once and when it came time for everyone to share blessings for the couple, one person said “if you see a man opening a car door for a woman, it is either a new car or a new wife.” Everyone laughed, but my partner and I were horrified at this callous, sad characterization of the process of a relationship. At a high school performance our son was in, a long time friend of my wife was so shocked to see us holding hands and paying attention to each other. She said “oh, you too must have just met.” She rarely sees her husband and they essentially lead separate lives.
            Deciding what is right and wrong is most challenging, but I think Dr. Wayne Dyer, who has been publishing enlightened self-help books since the 1970’s, has the best advice when he says as long as we challenge ourselves by asking if there is a chance we might be wrong in our perception, we can make it. None of us can be 100 percent right about anything, can we? As long as we can leave some room for being wrong, then possibilities open up in our lives.
            I choose another model for the process of a relationship which I think more accurately reflects the way the universe works – or at least the way I want it to work. Every day, I reflect on the miracle that my partner represents, this amazing meeting of two people on our planet who relate to one another is so many wonderful ways. I feel throughout my entire being gratitude for having her in my life, for her beauty, for the way she moves through the world with such grace, love, and compassion. I tend to get up earlier than she, but I make her a cup of tea the way she likes it and put it by the bedside for her when she wakes. If I am still home when she wakes, then I undress, get back into bed, and experience her waking up. We cuddle, ask each other about our sleep and dreams, and make love if time and mood permits. Those precious moments of connecting are most important to me.
            We end our day going to bed at the same time. Even if I feel I need to stay up later, we get into bed together, cuddle, talk, and bring the day to a close with a deep appreciation of our time together.
            Further, I notice throughout the day how our knowledge of each other grows with each day, how the rhythms of our lives feel so good together, and how I love who she is, who she was, and who she will become. There are times when we disagree, to be sure, but those disagreements are not part of the foundational fabric of our lives. Of course, it took me decades of missteps, pain, trauma, and confusion to finally figure all this out – with the help of 3 therapists, years of therapy, and tens of thousands of dollars for counseling!
            There is no way that this kind of thinking can result in anything but feeling like each day is like the first date. I always want her to see me in the best light, for my behavior to always be respectful, loving, and acknowledging of her journey.
            I don’t always accomplish that, to be sure. There are days when I am surly, short tempered, and all things human, but we talk about it, apologize if necessary, and move on. I am committed to not allowing the opportunity to feel like my needs are not being met. Open communication is the key, but more than that is the realization that I create my moods, I am responsible for the way I feel in response to a situation, and I am responsible for creating the solution.
            Some people who practice what they describe as a spiritual outlook on life will claim that if a partner in a relationship finds someone that they connect with better, the partner should be happy for them and wish them well. This, I believe, represents a complete misunderstanding of the personal responsibility involved in controlling the process of our attractions in life. Unlike the common movie lines like “I didn’t mean for this to happen,” or “we just fell in love,” we choose who we are attracted to and we choose to act or not act on that attraction.
            But in so many cultures today, our lack of appreciation of process and change keeps us from these awarenesses. Instant gratification and a life filled with drama feel like necessities to most of us brought up in the West.  We blame forces outside ourselves for our problems and feel very out of the moment most of the time with our elaborate electronic datebooks and calendars and our complex things-to-do lists.
Not being “in the moment” could be a very important source of our problems.

            Disconnection, separation, division, detachment, disassociation - these are all words that too often describe the way we view our world and ourselves. We are disconnected from the Earth herself, separated from the delicate web she has woven, divided from each other by arbitrary encumbrances, detached from the very meaning of our existence, and disassociated from the awe and mystery of the world and the universe.
            Our daily lives are filled with more events than our elaborate datebooks can contain. We live by the litany, "oh, that there were only more hours in the day," and we bemoan our lot in life. We are scared to death of spiders and cockroaches, consider the natural world as wild, untamed and therefore dangerous, and resist awareness of the intricacies of our world for fear of having to take on one more responsibility. We in the western world have tried so hard for so long to disconnect from the Web of Life.
            I was discussing this in an Environment and Human Health class I was teaching some years ago, trying to get adult university students to look beneath the surface and think really critically about what is going on around them. One student expressed his feelings of hopelessness about being able to do anything. He said that there were so many distractions that keep us from connecting to the natural world and to each other. So many things that seem to keep us from seeing life as an unfolding process. He is so right. Let's look at a few of them.
Television is a powerful distraction.
            Ironically, the same tool we use to escape from reality is also used as an information source. And television keeps us indoors at night.
Another great distracter is the street light.
            Yes, that's right. The street light, with its powerful illumination breaking through the darkness in all directions, has kept us from connecting with a powerful realization - that we are a planet in space.
            You see, the majority of street lights illuminate not only the ground below, but shine up as well, filling the night time sky with light. This light scatters around, increasing the brightness of the sky. Rarely do city-dwellers get to experience dark skies. Most of us live in regions where it rarely gets darker than a deep twilight. Just think about how our lives might be different if every clear night we could see a rich, bright, canopy of stars above our heads. When I talk about the concepts in this book, I try to use a planetarium, not a lecture hall!
            How would things be different if we noticed, every night, that the stars and planets seemed to revolve around the Earth, rising in the east and setting in the west? What if we noticed the cycles of the Moon throughout her journey each month? I believe that our sense of processes and cycles would be dramatically enhanced by a nightly awareness of the heavens, as it was for humans for thousands of years.
            I was listening to an interview with long time activist and poet Gary Snyder a few years ago on Pacifica Radio. He was speaking of another type of distraction - fossil fuel. But he described it in a way I had never heard before. He called the use of fossil fuels a form of slavery.
            I found this difficult to comprehend and felt my mind searching for the connection. What he said was fascinating. He said that fossil fuels are energy slaves that allow us to get more work done than we could ordinarily get done. Take a moment to let that sink in. Fossil fuels allow us to get more done than we were meant to get done. Without them, we would have to do a lot less and make do with that level of accomplishment. Snyder said that this prevents us from discovering what our own natural powers are - we lose our eyes, we lose our ears, we lose touch with our hearts. Wow.
            So all these distractions isolate us and increase our separation from the natural world and from each other and blind us from seeing the processes unfold around us and in our lives. So what can we do?
            One simple thing we can do is to label things correctly. If you want to watch TV, by all means do so, but label it correctly as a distraction. Say to yourself "I want to watch some TV now, but I know it is a distraction from connecting with the natural world and myself and those around me."             When you get into your car to go to the grocery store instead of walking or riding a bicycle, say to yourself "I know I could walk or ride my bike, but I want to drive my car to the store. I know that this is a distraction from exercise and taking care of the environment, but it is what I need to do right now."             Seem nuts? Maybe, but I think it is important. It can help keep us in the moment, keep us real, keep us in awareness of process.
            Buddhist Vietnamese Monk Thich Nhat Hahn calls this being "mindful." Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for recovery and healing. Be mindful of your actions. A student told me he read that "the beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name." I don't know where this came from, but it carries a powerful message.
            There are other ways we can be mindful to break the chain of intensity that girdles our lives. We go from one activity to the next, endlessly throughout the day, without taking a PAUSE. I don't mean a break where you go outside or to the coffee room for 15 minutes. I mean a pause, where you take a moment to reflect, to finish the present moment and move on to the next.
            For example, when you get into your car in the morning, instead of turning the key, putting it into gear, and heading on your way, put your key in the ignition and then pause. Take a long, deep breath. Break the chain of shallow breathing that begins with our morning routine. Breathe and think for a moment that you can only be in the here and now.             The present moment is all you can control, all you can live.
            Then put your car in gear and begin your day. You will notice a powerful difference. And while you are driving, drive. Don't plan your morning, your afternoon, your evening, talk on the phone, or text! Just drive. Attend to the present moment.             If we cultivate the present moment, live it fully, then the future moments will unfold naturally. Bring yourself to an awareness of the present moment by simply noticing your breath, breathing deeply and realizing that all things on this Earth are breathing as well.
            At a lecture by Wayne Dyer I attended in Seattle, he went a step further. He said that we should intentionally meditate throughout our day. Even when in the car, stopped at a stoplight, we should take a deep breath, close our eyes, and meditate for a few moments. The person behind us will always let us know when we are finished!
            We can break the bonds of our cultural, intellectual, and emotional imprisonment. We can open our eyes to see our connections and realize our true place in nature, a place that is beside other species, not above them. We can do all these things, but we need help. The disassociation of the last few thousand years will not erode overnight. But by carefully teaching each other to re-member, re-integrate, and re-associate, the embrace of our Mother Earth can be felt again.
            Maybe it can all begin with a pause.


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