The Balloon of Consciousness and the Tarpit of Experience

When I’m working with a client during a multi-day intensive, I will from time to time do a “reset” and ask them “If our time together was starting right now, what would you want to have come from it? What kinds of things would you like to explore? What would you like to be different by the time we’re done, even if it would take a miracle?”

Sometimes, they respond with a new Christmas list of requests; at other times, only one or two things make it up onto my flip chart.

The other day, I was working with a relatively new client and one of the things on their list was “staying high”. When I asked for more clarification, she explained that she would like to be able to stay at a higher level of consciousness instead of alternating between periods of clarity followed by periods of lostness, overwhelm, and being caught up.

My initial thought was to scratch that one off our list as “not worth thinking about”, as regardless of what we do our personal consciousness seems to expand and contract, like a tide ebbs and flows throughout the day.

But then I thought again. In The Inside-Out Revolution, I define a “transformative conversation” as being “a meaningful conversation about the nature of the human experience”. So rather than dismiss the idea, we dove into it instead to see what we could see about the nature of consciousness rising and our having a clearer view of whatever it is we are looking at.

I remembered a talk given by the mystic Syd Banks where he said:

“And that’s the beauty of these three principles that lead you into this higher state of consciousness… they actually lead you into it. I guarantee if you got people, 100 people meditating there, and 100 people here, getting the essence of the principles, (the people getting the essence of the principles) would win. They’d go high. They’d find newness in their life.

That newness spreads everywhere – once you get it you’re living in a new world. And that’s what you’re trying to do – you’re trying to find a nicer world for your client.”

A metaphor came to mind, and I drew this picture up on my flip chart:

To my slight relief, she immediately recognized it as a hot air balloon, in this case the “Balloon of Consciousness”. Like any hot air balloon, in order to rise it needs a source of hot air. The balloon’s speed of ascent will be a balance of the force with which the hot air is unleashed into it counterbalanced by the ballast hanging off the balloon’s basket.

When it comes to the balloon of consciousness, the source of expansion is the quiet of Mind – the beautiful, spacious feelings of silence and stillness that are available to us the moment we look away from the words and begin to notice the white page underneath. More simply put, underneath, before, and beyond your thinking there is a space. That space within us is, in Syd Banks’ words, “pure consciousness uncontaminated by our personal thinking”. And every time we attend to and touch that space, our level rises.

The ballast in this metaphor is not the principle of Thought, which is simply the creative aspect of the energy of life. It’s not even our personal thoughts, most of which come and go at a startling rate of knots. It’s those areas in which Thought Appears Real – TAR in the drawing. When a problem or situation looks to us as though our experience of it exists independent of our thinking, we are in the TARpit of experience. And like any good tarpit, the more you try to extricate yourself from it, the more stuck you become. The more stuck you become, the heavier everything feels, metaphorically bringing yourself down and making it harder to rise back up.

By way of example, a few years back I was struggling with a cashflow crunch in my business. Although I “knew it was just my thinking”, I still felt as though I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. Unbenownst to me at the time, I was being weighed down not by my financial situation, but by unrecognized Thought flowing through my mind and convincing me that cash has the capacity to not only “flow” and “crunch” but as best I could tell, bite, kick, and punch as well.

Then one day I was speaking with one of my coaches about it and I realized to my delight and dismay that I’d been making up “the crunch”. In the blink of an eye, my entire experience changed and my balloon began to rise. As I got quieter in my mind, it rose even higher, and in just a few minutes I could clearly see three things quite clearly:

a) that my financial situation was purely practical and in this case would be solved over time without very much intervention on my part

b) that my experience was made of Thought and not only could but already had begun to change for the better just by seeing that for real (insightfully) and not in an “I know it’s just my thinking but…” kind of a way

c) that there were a number of things I could be doing to move things forward that were obvious now that my headspace was no longer filled with apparently crunching cash.

The stress and pressure I had been feeling disappeared within the hour; the situation itself was resolved within a couple of weeks.

Here are a couple of questions for you to reflect on as you go about your day today:

1. Where in your life are you telling yourself something is “just your thinking” but feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders?

2. What would it be like to look within for the quiet surrounding your thoughts instead of for “better thinking” about your problems?

And if you want one last piece of advice from Syd Banks, how about this:

“Always look for the positive… look for the answer inside… look within. That’s the only place in the world you’ll ever find it.”

With all my love,