From aversion to well-being at the movies – Stop, Drop & Ask in action

So here’s a disclosure – I just love action movies. Not so crazy about the violence, but I love the energy, artistry and spectacle. I went to see Rogue One the other evening, and sat in an almost empty theater appreciating the spaciousness and the quiet. The previews played and I was all settled in to my little nest, when, just as the movie started, 3 people came in and looked all around at the seats. Remarkably, they sat directly next to me. Aversion. Almost an automatic, reflexive contraction. Thoughts started pouring out – “That’s not right!. How could they do this! How impolite! I should move over one more seat.”” Blah, blah, blah.

When I “Stopped” and recognized that I was suffering, up  into my mind popped one of my favorite quotes “Holding resentment is like drinking a cup of poison yourself and hoping the other person dies from it.” So true. Next I “Dropped” the situation into  my heart and just felt the pain of it. My heart felt tight and heavy. I noticed my stomach was clenched as was my jaw. Then I just opened up and sincerely and innocently “Asked” my heart for guidance.

The first thing that happened was that the tightness around my heart released. Then an image arose of all of us as greeting each other as friends. The thought fired off “What if we were actually friends and had been planning on meeting here tonight?” Another thought arose “This really is a great spot. Why wouldn’t they want to sit here. t’m sure they must be enjoying it too.” Amazingly I then recognized that I felt happy. There was this sort of childlike joy of sharing. Up from my heart came a wish for them to enjoy the show. I then noticed that all the contractions had released. Lastly, I felt a rush of appreciation and confidence, that this orientation to life was resulting in my well-being and happiness. Wow. I settled in for the show.

All these moments happened in the space of about 5 seconds. This was not a hugely charged issue, but it was illuminating. When a really charged or more complex conflict or challenge occurs, that’s where having a platform like t AskLove.org is so helpful.  We are crowdsourcing, or rather, heart sourcing wise options from a caring, moderated community.

Because I’ve been playing with “Stop, Drop & Ask” for some time, the theater process happened organically. It has, however, taken A) recognition of how I get stressed, B) the intention to shift to a new way of relating to experience, and 3) repetition. This is what AskLove.org provides in a very basic way. We’ll see how we suffer from having a closed heart and how there are other options. We’ll see those options modeled and implemented through what people are sharing. We’ll gain confidence that leading from the heart can truly be our most powerful and joyful way of meeting life. We’ll try “Stop, Drop & Ask” ourselves and verify that confidence in our direct experience. When enough of us do this our world will change. It is that simple. Cool.

Thank you, Bruce, for presenting  such an instructive model of the ‘Stop, Drop&Ask Paradigm.’ I was struck by your description of the mind being hijacked by a sequence of thoughts: “’That’s not right!. How could they do this! How impolite! I should move over one more seat..’. Blah, blah, blah.”  

I think this is pretty typical of all of us when we feel ‘our space’ being ‘invaded.’ It is also a  great example of the sort of  reactive behavior that I (all too often) experience whenever my ego perceives any threat to its either 1) not getting what it wants or 2) getting a lot of what it doesn’t  want.

A certain quality of self-inflicted stress and discomfort inevitably results when I go down that path. There frequently follows a proliferation of thoughts as I am yanked out of the present moment into a train of made-up stories about a future that doesn’t yet (and may never exist). Sadly familiar stuff, that.

The ability to put a space between an impulse and an action is critical here, and  that is what you were able to do so successfully in the theater. This is what Dan Siegel refers to as ‘response flexibility’ in the YouTube video, “Flipping Your Lid:” A Scientific Explanation  (starting at 4:50). Children often lack (and need to learn) this skill, and I think we all could do better as well.

Our bodies carry ‘implicit memories‘ of prior traumas, and those can easily trigger all kinds of reactionary behavior — quickly jumping over that critical pause (the ‘Stop’ of Stop Drop&Ask). Having sufficient self-awareness to recognize our ego’s rush to react is clearly a key element. To observe our ‘self’ (or, dare I say, ‘selves’) without judgment is part of what makes Stop and Drop possible. 

That, I believe, is a learned skill. And, as I often say, “Don’t worry; if you flunk the class, you get to repeat the course!”  

on January 9, 2017.

Lots of great wisdom here Larry. Thanks for the link to Dan Siegel’s video. How cool, and I love the description of implicit memory. What a view into how trauma can subtly affect our perceptions.   What I find so encouraging is that we are never frozen into a specific way of orienting – we can learn a new. We just have to have a skillful orientation. When our system  feels the well-being provided by this orientation right in our bodies and hearts, the intellect jumps on board. It is, after all, rational.With repetition and intention we start to organically shift into a new way of holding our lives and our world.

on January 12, 2017.
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2 Response(s)

Thanks for this post!  Yesterday I had a bout of negative emotions about somebody just running through my mind.  It felt tight in the chest.  I knew it was negative and I was trying desperately to get rid of it.  I went hiking, in a really beautiful tropical lush rainforest, but I was still tormented by my own cup of poison.  I held that cup of poison for nearly half the day!

After reading these posts I know why it took so long.  I didn’t DROP it from my head to my heart and to just feel the suffering.  I just kept rationalizing about it, intellectualizing, telling myself this and that when I should have just let it drop.  After the hike I went to the beach and as soon as I went in the water I felt great, and by that time I think I had just let it drop, processed my own poison that was felt through the chest and it slowly dissipated.
Thanks for the sharing, this discussion couldn’t have come at a more opportune time! =D

Responded on January 11, 2017.

Wow that is so gratifying to hear! The next time you encounter a situation like this, you might be able to drop the load even sooner. On certain occasions you can  just let the heart hold it. It will transform there. Sometimes when we ask the heart for guidance, the only response is “just keep holding this here in the heart. It will work it’s mysterious way to healing and transformation whether or not you understand it with the intellect.”

To see that one person’s experience is useful in relieving suffering for another and that it offers a way of relating for the future is really the core intention of AdskLove.org. When we model and share the possibilities and benefits of living from our hearts, our world blossoms. When we don’t, it is like a gift unopened. Thank you for this beautiful reflection!

on January 12, 2017.
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“The ability to put a space between an impulse and an action is critical here.” – you’ve hit it on the head Larry, nice! This is precisely how the practice of “stop, drop and ask” is supported. If we can cultivate the space to just observe without judgement in our day-to-day life, we are empowered exponentially! And perhaps we can then instead choose to meet life from love. Thank you AskLove.org for this amazing opportunity to do just that!

Responded on January 16, 2017.