Tag Archives: not-doing

Chuck’s Place: Not Doing

A Not Doing, one red shoe, one black shoe…

Not doing is a practice developed by the Seers of Ancient Mexico to break the fixation of habitual behavior. The most powerful reinforcer of habitual behavior is the internal dialogue, the things we tell ourselves, over and over again, about ourselves and the world we live in.

The ultimate not doing of the internal dialogue is inner silence, the springboard into unfiltered perception. Inner silence is a coveted state, achieved through an arduous unbending intent. That intent might include the not doing of a new internal dialogue, such as an oft-repeated statement, like, for instance, “I am silent.”

What makes this mantra a not doing is that when we say it we are not doing what we usually do. Our typical inner dialogue might say
“that won’t work” or “that’s not the way my mind works.” Thus, to state “I am silent” requires volition to oppose the limitation imposed by the default position of our internal dialogue.

The trick with this, and all not doings, is no attachment to the outcome; simply perseverance in performing the prescribed action. Attachment belongs to the inventory of the standard internal dialogue that insists reality be what is prescribed.

In that case, if our not doing is not quickly realized through our new internal dialogue, we can suffer the emotional energy drain of failure, which becomes defeat. Defeatism reinstalls the primacy of the familiar internal dialogue, which quickly shifts us back into our habitual self.

Not doing is a volitional action that forces our consciousness to be present in new ways. To eat or write with one’s non-dominant hand is an unfamiliar behavior. Energetically, a not doing explores untapped energy potential, as it ventures beyond the known boundaries of the habitual self.

While at a practical level, a not doing interrupts the habitual flow of our energy into repetitive thought and behavior, at a truly sublime level, we are learning the fluidity to fixate upon new worlds of possibility. This includes a very different experience of self and the world that we can fixate upon or hold onto at will.

Suspending all moral judgments, both nature and world leaders are introducing global not doings that are generating new worlds of possibility that we might fixate upon. Of course, there remains the not doing of not tracking world events, but none of us are immune from their impact on the ultimate, interconnected energy we are all a part of.

As I began writing this blog yesterday morning, a Monday, Jan was simultaneously channeling Jeanne’s spoken message for the week. Synchronistically, Jeanne prescribed a not doing breathing technique, to cancel the internal dialogue and experience a moment of inner silence. When I heard the message, I realized I must continue this blog, as it was prompted by the Tao of now.

What makes the prescribed breathing technique a not doing is the fact that it interrupts the natural flow of unconscious breathing, as one must consciously remain present to monitor the steps of the in breath, the pause, and the out breath. This not doing opens up new assemblages of energy, as it ventures beyond the narrow frame of automatic behavior.

Our automatic internal dialogue rests upon a very narrow set of beliefs, which limit our access to our true potential. Even nonsensical not doings, like wearing unmatched shoes, sends our awareness into uncharted territory, as it breaks its typical habitual fixation.

The intent of such a not doing, as wearing unmatched shoes, is quite private, loosening one’s tendency to fixate, unconsciously, upon the same things. The intent is not to feed the self-importance of being seen as an oddity. Not doings might be quite public actions, but not for the purpose of attracting attention. Such a motive would defeat the intent of not doing, which is to open the door to energetic possibility by learning to fixate on new behaviors.

Training awareness to be fluid, through the practice of not doings, hones our ability to navigate the unknown, particularly the unknown sides of ourselves waiting to be actualized. Not doings also promote the inner silence that leads to discovering our dormant potential.

As Jeanne suggests, take a breath of fresh air. Out with the stale breath of the internal dialogue, in with the not doing of new life.

Not doing,


Chuck’s Place: Always Return to the Heart

Find the heart everywhere…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Sadly, but truthfully, human beings are a truly cancerous species, malignantly acting upon the planet. Actually, to be more precise, it’s the current state of the human ego, not the full human being, that carries the disease.

Oddly, the human ego is capable of a quality of consciousness that affords it freedom to choose action beyond the binding instructions of instinct and archetype, a remarkable freedom. The downside of having this ability is the obvious abuse of its power, which has led to the diseased condition the planet is now plagued with.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico trace this ego malady to the predatory reality of the universe, where all life is sustained by feeding upon other life. From their cosmology, or seeing, what preys upon the human species is an inorganic species that actually feeds upon the energy released by human emotion.

In the case of us humans, this predatory species fixates our human awareness upon worries about survival and self-importance, thus generating waves of frenzied human emotion that serve as food for this inorganic entity. Thus, our human awareness is fixated at a narcissistic level that constantly seeks attention and validation, that constantly gets offended, and is predominantly motivated to act for essentially self-serving purposes. Human behavior, especially at this time, seems to fit this description perfectly.

The shamans suggest that this predatory entity succeeds in securing our obsessive worry by actually giving us its mind, a mental overlay that is obsessed with its next meal and threats to its survival. Thus, the impact of this entity’s mind on human awareness is to generate the obsessive internal dialogue that plagues human consciousness.

The plus side of this condition is what the shamans call our cubic centimeter of a chance to wake up and free ourselves from this parasitic relationship. Although we are prone to obsess, our ego does have the freedom to choose another option. This is our evolutionary birthright, the freedom to choose. Ironically, it is the encounter with the predator that sharpens consciousness and awakens it to this opportunity to evolve. The dark side of the force has its necessary role.

The key to freedom is to choose the option to turn to the heart over the obsessive mind. The heart is connected to the High SOUL, and hence the deepest truth. If one finds oneself in a condition of worry or strife and one shifts one’s attention to the heart center, one’s ego exits the energetic valence of narcissistic influence and opens to the purity of the heart.

The heart holds compassion for all beings, thus strife is cleansed of its preoccupation with self-interest and offense. Even if the other person clings to their narcissistic preoccupation, one is not personally offended. The heart might determine that strong boundaries are necessary, but it assigns no emotional energy to being offended.

The heart will tell us, and asks us to face, the truth. The heart refuses shame and blame. The heart insists we never put ourselves down nor judge ourselves harshly. The heart’s love is expressed in its full acceptance of all that we are and all that we’ve done. The heart guides us to right action, with love.

The heart also holds the awareness that the universe is a bundle of interconnected energy, that everything is part of the same whole. One sees, in the behavior of the other, a reflection of a part of one’s self, with which one needs to reckon with and accept.

Arriving at the heart center frees one of the narcissistic worldview and allows one to see clearly the true needs of the planet, and act accordingly. Thus, the path to the heart is the path to freedom from our current world crisis. All citizens who walk a path of heart are forging a sustainable solution for the planet.

We are currently challenged with a world leadership that incessantly draws us into a depressed mood, as it mirrors and amplifies the collective ego’s struggle with its narcissistic fixation. The resultant negative emotional wave weakens the ego and feeds the predator.

Seek refuge in the broadened perspective of the heart space. Have compassion for leadership’s struggle, but maintain ruthless insistence upon the truth of the heart.

Walk the path of love upon this Earth. Love is the one  powerful emotion that can’t be touched by the predator. Love indeed conquers all.

Breathing into the heart,


Lessons in a Life: The Great Unknown Known

Before sleep I call upon Robert Monroe, great out-of-body explorer and author of several books as well as guided meditations on the subject. “Will you take me on as your apprentice?” I ask. Before long I am asleep and dreaming.

Girl on beach, drawn as we all are... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Girl on beach, drawn as we all are…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I stroll along a boardwalk. On my left side is an endless row of doorways to video arcades, to adventures and games, places to learn and test skills. On my right is the ocean, dark and brooding.

I pop into one arcade after another, through wide doorways into big rooms, through narrow doorways, no wider than a sheet of paper, into rooms equally narrow. All doorways are accessible; no matter how thin, I simply slip in. I have many adventures in these various rooms, partaking in games of skill, learning how to manipulate and master everything that comes at me.

Every now and then I step back out onto the boardwalk and walk out onto the beach and step into the waves of the ocean. As opposed to the busyness of the arcade scene, all is calm and quiet here. I am calm and at ease here too.

All night long, while I dream, I partake in life along the boardwalk and in the arcade rooms. I play all the games. I am enticed, challenged, gain insights, skills, and a sense of power and prowess, and yet it all soon becomes repetitive and boring. At the end of the night, just before I wake up, I walk one more time out to the ocean’s edge and realize that this is what matters, this is what’s meaningful, this is the whole point of everything. I wake up in utter calmness.

The boardwalk is the path through life. We make many trips along that boardwalk, through many lifetimes, selecting how we want to live, being drawn here and there, walking the narrow planks over and over again.

The arcade rooms represent the many adventures we have, the choices we make to play one game or another, the things we are challenged with and the things we learn. Here all the desires, the wantings, the needs, the things of this world that we find so enticing are supplied, encountered, and experienced.

The ocean is the Great Unknown Known. I call it this because although it is dark and brooding and hard to see what lies in its depths, we sense such affinity with it. There is familiarity in its mystery and we are constantly drawn to it. We are drawn there by the High Self, our spirit urging us to discover what it offers, just as I was drawn in my dream. We go to it throughout our lifetimes, perhaps not as often as we go to the arcade rooms, but often enough that we all have a sense of its presence and significance in our lives.

Life's repetitions keep us going in circles... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Life’s repetitions keep us going in circles…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Our sense of familiarity with it, hard to pinpoint at first, becomes more realized as we get to know it better. For some, the unconscious, that Great Unknown Known, is frightening. To others it is calming though still mysterious. It will remain a mystery until we dive deeper into its depths and discover what it holds for us. Once we have gone into its depths enough times we gain a certain prowess and ease, equal to that which we gain in the reality of this world, as we engage in it, walking the boardwalks of our many lifetimes.

The more we explore the ocean, the more we feel its resonance, its energy so like the energy of our spirit. The more we enter it the more we gain a certain prowess in its waters. We might even experience the great depths of calm that came over me at the end of my dream as we dive deeper into the mysteries of the inner self. Even as we become calm in its waters, we are also aware that we have still much to learn, as its mysteries are endless. It is the vastness of infinity, and just that, infinite.

Each time I took a break from the arcade rooms and stepped into the ocean in my dream calmness came over me, and yet I always went back to the boardwalk and the arcades. By the end of the night, however, I got the message. It’s not the boardwalk and the endless supply of games, one more bedazzling, enticing and challenging than the next, but the deep and broody ocean that is important. It is where our spirit takes us over and over again. Our spirit knows it’s what we are really seeking, and that it offers all the adventure we really need.

The ocean, the Great Unknown Known, is the big draw. It offers the wonder and mystery of what lies beyond the boardwalk, beyond this world, enticing us to discover it for ourselves, asking us to test its waters as eagerly as we jump into another arcade game.

In the end it’s the balance between the two that we seek. We must let ourselves fully experience what the boardwalk offers, on both sides. We must fully live in this world, the arcade rooms, but also fully avail ourselves of the world of the Great Unknown Known. And that really means that we soon discover that it is not so unknown at all, but just another part of who we really are.

Where our heart knows we must go... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Where our heart knows we must go…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

There are many ways to go to the ocean every day, in sitting calmly, in simply breathing, in meditation, in just being, in refusing to do what we might normally feel we must do, in what the shamans call “not doing.” In “not doing” we refuse to go into the arcade rooms. Instead, we go to the other side of the boardwalk, slip into the ocean for a moment or two and wait for it to show us something. You too might ask for Robert Monroe’s help. I think he’s out there waiting.

For now, we must return to the boardwalk because that’s where we live, but the ocean is always right there.

Not doing,

A Day in a Life: Waiting In The Void

I feel somewhat like this little fellow, emerging from the ground after 17 years in another world... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
I feel somewhat like this little fellow, emerging from the ground after 17 years in another world… – Photo by Jan Ketchel

It’s Tuesday afternoon. I’m waiting for the proof of my book to arrive. It’s been a tense few days. I’d sent the book off at 3:45 last Thursday, declaring that I was ready to take a few days off while I waited for the proofs to be delivered by CreateSpace, Amazon’s on-demand publisher. With knowledge of Word and a techie friend who can design a cover, it’s fairly simple to publish a book these days. A few simple downloads and the book was on its way to the great digital reviewer in the cloud. A great sigh of relief and a lot of self-congratualtory pats on the back followed. I smiled a lot and felt very happy.

I decided I’d take a few days off, while I waited for the proof to arrive. I’ll do something else for a while, something else besides writing and thinking about writing, I thought, things I’d been putting off, like cleaning the bathroom and raking the leaves out of the flowerbeds and vegetable garden so I can get my planting done.

Friday, the first day off, and the weekend went by fairly quickly. The weather was nice and so Chuck and I got a lot of outdoor work done. Then Monday arrived and all of a sudden I felt groundless. After obligations were fulfilled, my usual writing time arrived and I didn’t know what to do. The allure of freedom from writing had worn off, but I felt like I had to uphold my intent to give myself a break.

Here it is Tuesday, and I’m still wandering around in the void of free time and so I’m writing this blog just to reground myself. It has to be done anyway, but on the other hand all of this wandering in the void that I’ve created gives me the opportunity to write about routine, how grounding it is, how safe it makes us feel, how important it is to who we are. Without it, I feel like a ship out of water!

When I was a full time freelance artist, I dreaded the lull between jobs. Not only was it financially stressful but I feared that I’d lose my creativity completely in those down times. I worried that I’d be unable to come up with an idea when the next job proposal came along. And so I’d keep multiple projects always going, making sure there was always an overlap so I’d never lose my creative edge. And so I never had free time either, or very little of it. I was always working in some way, keeping myself safe, because free time in the old days meant fears would seep in. It meant risking deeper depression and darker moods than normal, states that were very difficult to extricate myself from. I’m in a totally different place these days, in fact, I’m a totally different person. But I look back on the person I was with such fondness, for her ability to deal with the tension of living on the precipice of despair was impeccable.

These days, I’m a stranger to depression. It’s rare now, and so fear of depression wasn’t an issue as I faced the past few days. I didn’t worry about discipline either, for I am a very disciplined person. You can’t be a freelancer and not have discipline; your livelihood is totally in your own hands. Discipline however, involves routine, and so I come to this self-realization: I love routine! It’s so predictable. It makes life flow. It makes life so easy. I will do this and this and this, and then that will happen and that. What could be easier! But what could be more boring!

And so I face this boring truth about myself, while at the same time I look into the void of my empty writing time. I must fill it with something else! NO! I won’t. But then here I am, filling it. As I sit at my computer and write, I have to admit that my sense of groundlessness has dissipated. The void is fast receding, and yet I refuse to see this as routine—not me!

Yes, Jan, it is. I’m not letting myself sit in the lull that I’ve created by my intent to not do the routine. I’m not letting myself sit in the calm, in the moment of silence when the mind is still. When in the busyness of my routine I long for such moments. I long for the long meditation period, the calmness of a quiet day with nothing to do. I feel like I’m away on vacation and after two days I’m done, I’ve had enough. It’s time to leave. But I’m too far from home, committed, the vacation paid for and so I must stay. At times like these the challenge really is to let go, to push through the urge to jump up and go back to work and let the lull become important, sacred, and nurturing. We all need respite.

We had quite the communication this tree spirit and I... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We had quite the communication this tree spirit and I… – Photo by Jan Ketchel

I can so easily lose sight of such basic human needs for rest and relaxation in the energy of the creative. And I think that’s what I’m dealing with right now, the energy of the creative, because although I didn’t consciously make certain that I had something to fill the gap while I wait for the proofs to arrive, my creative self stepped in and took over. Her old spot opened up and she grabbed the opportunity to reassert her priorities. Creativity runs deep, and so I acquiesce—for a little while. I realize that for some people having the free time to be creative is such a dream, while those of us who live it our whole lives might need a break from it every now and then, from the consuming fire of it. Just a little break.

Writing this blog doesn’t feel routine. I’m “not doing,” as the Shamans of Ancient Mexico say—breaking the routine by doing things differently, or not at all—by writing on a different day than usual, and when I’m done I’m going to do something quiet, in alignment with my spirit asking for some attention. It’s time to reenter the void. Hmm, I’ve been yearning to learn a new song on the ukelele…

Just taking a small break from my beloved routine,

P.S. It looks like my book, The Edge of the Abyss – Volume 1, will be ready for ordering by the end of the week. I look forward to being able to post that announcement! Feel free to write reviews at Amazon and spread the word in other ways, if you feel that it’s right. One must be an Amazon customer to leave a review on the book page, I believe. I personally have such a hard time saying that I hope you’ll like the book knowing that it’s about such a difficult subject, but I really do hope you’ll all like it!

Chuck’s Place: Present Without Props

The female cohorts of Carlos Castaneda would laugh mysteriously as they described Carlos’s romance with knowledge. He would lie down and cover his body with books, literally absorbing knowledge through their many points of contact with his body. Carlos had released the prop that reading must happen through the eyes only; he suspended judgment and opened to new channels of learning within himself.

Oftentimes, during recapitulation, people begin to experience all kinds of physical sensations at different places inside and on the outside of their bodies. These sensations can be so unexpected and powerful that many times medical consultation is sought. Once cleared of medical etiology another possibility may be considered. Perhaps the sensation is an active communication of knowledge from some other point on the body self. Perhaps the recapitulation has opened the channels to knowledge that may have been stored by the body self some fifty years ago. Perhaps the body self is inviting us into the full knowledge of the experiences of our life lived through direct sensorial experience.

This is very often the case in recapitulation; a united effort by the body self to fill in the blanks in our memory of life already lived. This experience of recapitulation, whether intentionally sought or unintentionally triggered, asks us to drop the prop of our rationality that tells us that the body neither stores memory nor communicates independently of the mind.

How terrifying it can be to stay fully present and absorb this body of knowledge! The body generally “speaks” through direct sensorial experience that can range from pleasure to overwhelming pain. Often, if we allow ourselves to take the sensation journey with our body, channels may open to smells, temperature, and sounds, as well as triggering images, scenes, and eventually full movies of forgotten experience. The overall experience can range from subtle to riveting—the roller coaster of a lifetime.

Intimacy, in relationship, might also be defined as staying present without the props. How deeply might we allow ourselves to stare into each other’s eyes? How accepting might we be of sitting with each other, fully present, in utter silence? How long before the mind provides a thought to be discussed, a prop of distraction to create conversation, abstraction in place of presence? Can we not do the routines that have formed the crust and definition of our relationship—the props of habit—and open ourselves to new truths of who we are or who our partner is?

Finally, can we be fully present with ourselves, occupying the seat of the observer? Can we let go of the props of music or voice at the ear, computer or TV in the eye, food or drink in the mouth, book or cell phone in the hand?

Can we simply be present without judgment, unattached to thought, experiencing sensation and energy as it flows in the body? Can we notice the sound and vibration of energy? Can we allow it to deepen? Can we journey with it, uninterrupted by props?

Let’s see what happens!