Funnel Vision: How we fabricate our own doomed futures

We let our experiences limit our future possibilities.
We let our experiences limit our future possibilities.

How many straight lines can we draw from a dot? Infinite. It means there is infinite number of viewpoints from which you can see a dot. How many straight lines can we draw connecting two dots? Only one. And this line can be further projected on any side of the dots to predict the occurrence of similar dots. This is funnel vision. As our mind connects similar experiences (dots) across time, it tends to project a future with narrowed possibilities and diminishing joy. Think of it as an inverted funnel place in front of our eyes, like eyeglasses, and we can see only through the small opening at the base of the funnel.

Funnel Effect is common to all of us and most of us fail to recognize its presence and effect upon our lives. Our minds have infinite capacities to bring to us (or take us into) those experiences that prove our existing beliefs. For instance, if a girl believes that all her romantic relationships would end in the man dumping her then that is all she will experience or fight against one relationship after the other. After a few relationships, she may form a new belief that all men are untrustworthy. And she then continues to attract herself into hands of such men. And if she chances upon a trustworthy relationship, her funnel vision can cause her to remain suspicious of the man in her life and can even end up in severing the relationship out of her inability to trust him.

What this girl, in this instance, fails to understand is that her first incident of heartbreak had become the base out of which she operated in the next experiences. Either she would want the same outcome if it makes her happy, or she would want to avoid the outcome if it had suffered her. The very pain has become a yardstick of measure for her. And even the very first experience could have been attracted due to an underlying feeling of undeservedness and poor self-image she had experienced in childhood.

The problem with this emotional approach is that the emotions can make a mere possibility seem a certainty thus creating an anticipation and preparedness – a narrowing of our vision. Naturally when the situation occurs we interpret it through our narrowed or filtered vision and give out prepared reactions only to regret later on. Sometimes the narrowed viewpoint is so strong that we may not even realize our misinterpretation for long.

Our rational mind is also not free from such bias or funnel vision. In fact, it can have more devastating effects in some cases. When a logical mind has to make predictions about an event, it always estimates possibilities based on past similar experiences in our lives or other’s. But all data from past is based not on reality but on the memory of the experience of the reality – either ours or of others around us. That’s like mistaking twice adulterated milk to be pure milk.

Another problem with rational mind is its blind reliance on science. There is an excellent dialogue from the movie Men in Black that beautifully illustrates this problem. Tommy Lee Jones makes this statement to Will Smith after Smith’s first experience with an alien being: “Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

A logical mind concludes often fails to understand what it ‘knows’ could be just one, its personal, version of reality and not the truth.

Logical mind kills joy because of its tendency to be too controlling. Emotional mind increases pain because of its tendency to indulge. Funnel vision causes this to become reality of the future. Think of it as series of dots joined by a line, only the mind did not just create the line but it even ended up creating the dot after dot in its life based on its past prejudices.

When experiences in our lives become our beliefs, we undergo a gradual narrowing of our vision and philosophy in our lives to such extent that all we get to experience of life is but a tiniest fraction of its wondrous spectrum of possibilities. We trace a path of suffering, struggle, and strife ahead of us and end up living it just because we assumed a possibility to be a certainty.

So how do we get rid of this funnel in front of our eyes? By first acknowledging its presence. Unless we know our vision is narrow, we will remain the proverbial frog in a well that thinks the well is the whole universe.

Paying complete attention to the moment can dissolve funnel vision and expand our horizons.
Paying complete attention to the moment can dissolve funnel vision and expand our horizons.

The second step is to learn to be in the moment instead of simply accepting the viewpoint our thoughts portray based on our past memories. We cannot stop the funnel vision from giving extremely convincing viewpoints. But we can stop ourselves from entirely believing the viewpoints and being open to the present moment as if it were our first experience. And that is also the truth. No matter how many times we may have experienced events similar to the current situations we are in, we have never experienced this moment before.

We can color this moment and make it as painful as the past with our complicit acceptance of the funnel vision. Or we can simply let every moment become a fresh experience by paying attention to this moment to see what we can experience this time. When we remain absolutely open to the moment, life can surprise us with new joys and experiences that we never had before. Deeper doors within us can open up making us more sensitive to the wonders of life. And this also serves to widen our visions and eventually get rid of the funnel effect altogether.

Suggested Readings:
Cinderella Syndrome
Simple Meditation Technique to deal with Anxiety
Self Abuse

Photo Courtesy by freedigitalphotos
Dark Tunnel With Light by pakorn
Cityscape Sunset by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

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What Should Be and What Is – The Eternal Human Conflict

Every problem that we face no matter how big or small it is arises out of the conflict between our ‘What Should Be’ and what is.

  • When we are on the track of ‘What Is’ and focus on the tracks ‘What Should Be’ …accidents happen.

    I should have my keys! I lost my keys!

  • My car shouldn’t have a flat tire! It does!
  • I should be getting more income! I am getting less!
  • My neighbor should mind his own business! He doesn’t!
  • My wife should do all the household chores! She isn’t!
  • My husband should support me financially! He isn’t!
  • My spouse should understand me! The spouse doesn’t!
  • My son should get better marks! He isn’t!
  • My daughter should dress properly! She doesn’t!
  • My parents should give me more freedom! They aren’t!
  • I should be healthy! I am diseased!
  • She should have been alive! She’s dead!

All the clients that ever came to me, all the problems I ever sought to resolve in my life – everything came down to a conflict between ‘What Should Be’ and what is.

No matter what help we resort to for our troubles, be it Allopathy, Ayurveda, Reiki, Hypnotherapy, Self-Help books, Psychological Counselors, a well-wisher’s advice, Angel Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Critical Analysis, Astrology, Chakra Healing, Divination, it is always because we cannot accept what is and we have a ‘What Should Be’ in our head.

But have we ever once stopped to question our very ‘What Should Be’ beliefs?

Have we ever once thought why can we not simply accept what is?

We are so caught up in the denying, resisting, fighting with, attempting to change the ‘what is’ that we never for once sat back and asked ourselves why should anything be any other way that it is! We never questioned the standards! We never thought why can’t we simply accept what is!

Which standard says that human being should be healthy always? Is that a biological law? If it is, why, then, aren’t we always healthy? Why then must we die?

Who said that relationships must be the way we expect them to be? Is it a natural law of the universe? Don’t you realize that your relationship is lousy just because you are trying to make the other person confirm to your expectations of that role?

When you look deeper into the problem, we find that all the ‘What Should Be’ beliefs are all acquired standards. We picked them up in the process of growing up and learning to cope with this world. They are all mere beliefs. Yet they become our moral and social commandments of life. We seek to fulfill them at the cost of sacrificing who we are.

Some may say it is a conflict between ‘What I Want’ and what is. I’ve noticed ‘What I Want’ is either defined by ‘What Should Be’ or it becomes that.

The roots go deeper still until they touch our very egos. But we never want to go that deep. We just want to be on the surface and depend on our ‘What Should Be’s to define our happiness.

The truth is there is greater freedom in learning to accept what is. That does not mean we cannot or must not change what is. But in learning to accept, we lose our ‘What Should Be’ and then what needs to be actually done for the situation will become clear. It might be changing the situation or it might be simply being in the acceptance. In some cases if we accept the situation, the situation changes without any apparent effort on our part (except for the acceptance, of course).

Isn’t accepting everything that comes a loser’s way?

Where did you get your definition of losing and success from? Merely another ‘What Should Be’ standard!

And if we accept a situation just because the situation will change by acceptance, then we are still hanging on to a ‘What Should Be’.

Next time you have an issue just, for once, try accepting the reality of what is.

What do I mean by acceptance? Just be! Stop resisting. Just be. And see what happens!

Remember, when you are accepting, you must really let go of your ‘What Should Be’ for that particular situation. Otherwise, you are merely pretending to accept. You still haven’t come down into the reality.

Further Reading:

Emotional Drama

It’s Too Late Now

2012: The year of Freewill and Choice

Photo Courtesy: freedigitalphotos

Exercises To Be Aware Of Semi Conscious Thoughts

Exercises to become aware of your semi conscious thoughts are simple yet extremely effective. All you need to practice them is application and consistency.

Image Courtesy: graur razvan ionut @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.netIn the last post I spoke of the necessity of training oneself to become aware of their semi-conscious thoughts. This post will look at some simple techniques that can be practised to bring the stream of semi conscious thought to conscious cognizance.

There is a reason why I prescribe the following techniques. The stream of semi conscious thoughts can at times be so subtle that training yourself to directly observe these thoughts can become a trying and frustrating endeavor. These techniques are relatively easy to follow and they teach you to review your thoughts just after you have had these thoughts. With enough practice you can become aware of your semi conscious thoughts as they occur. Reviewing our thoughts just after they occur is easier than being in a state of awareness as they thoughts flow through your mind.

Technique #1: Observe Your Breath

Breath is intimately connected with our thoughts and emotions. Fluctuations in breath indicate variations in our moods and emotions. Even the subtlest changes in our moods is reflected in our breath. This is no new technique. There are hundreds meditation courses that emphasize on this connection between the mind and breath. You would have already observed the fact that when you become angry your breath becomes short, shallow, and rapid. So by making use of this well known fact will help you achieve deeper awareness of self.

This technique is simple to practice. Start by observing your breath as you go about your daily routine. Observe what is your regular rate of breathing – are you a shallow breather or deep breather. Initially it takes a little conscious effort on your part to remember to be aware of your breath. But with a little consistent effort it will become second nature. After a few days of practice, whenever you observe a change in breath from normal, immediately stop whatever you are doing and cast your mind back over what your immediate thoughts had been. If you become aware of your breath sometime after the fluctuation occurred, then just cast your mind back to your thoughts just about the time the breath varied. It would be very easy to do, you just need to devote the time and effort.

Here are a few breath variations that you need to pay special attention to:

  • Shallow and Rapid breathing – this kind of breathing occurs when the body is undergoing some kind of anxiety or tension.
  • Sudden sharp intake and Holding of breath – indicative of fear or shock
  • Tightness in Breathing – this is indicative of fear as well as anxiety

Follow these symptoms backwards to when they started and what you were thinking at that time or just before it and you will easily go to the root thought.

Technique #2: Observe Subtle Body Movements
This technique is relatively easier to follow than the previous one. It also increases your awareness of your body language. Whenever we have negative, anxious, problematic thoughts these affect not only our breathing rate but also our body language. It manifests itself easily in the body extremities like hands and fingers, feet and toes. Practice being aware of these extremities and you will be able to detect variations in mood and emotions easily.

Watch for these movements:

  • Repetitive movements – like rubbing fingers/palms together, rubbing any object like chair handle, etc
  • Pressing actions – wringing hands, one foot pressing another foot, clutching objects like chair handle, etc
  • Nervous actions – watchout for subtle nervous actions in limb extremities

Also of use is the action of biting lips.

All of the above actions are indicative of stress or anxiety. Pressing actions are indicative of stress and continous actions like rubbing are indicative of anxious thoughts in the semi conscious thought stream. As soon as you become aware of them, just stop what you are doing and follow the action back to the time they started. You will easily know what upset you.

As you grow adept in observing your thoughts, you will notice that not only are you able to become aware of your semi conscious thoughts but also you find repetitive patterns in your thoughts. Most anxieties and stressful situations all boil down to two or three major root issues.

Being aware of your subtler thoughts will give you a deeper understanding of your personality, uncovering hidden dimensions of self that you either thought were not there or that you had already worked on the issue. It also gives you immense control over your self and the ability to manifest situations suited to your needs and evolution. Learning to be conscious of innermost thoughts of your being is the foremost step to self healing. Because, you cannot resolve a problem that you are not aware exists.

(Image Courtesy: graur razvan ionut @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Be Aware of Your Semi Conscious Thoughts

This is one of the most powerful practises to accelarate progress and self development: Learning to become aware of your, of what I call, semi conscious thoughts. Our mind is a constant chatter of thoughts – but amids those seemingly simultaneous stream of thoughts, there is a steady undercurrent thought stream that is minute but certainly discernable. I call them ‘semi conscious’ thoughts for they aren’t loud for you to be easily conscious of them nor are they so sub conscious that you need to be in an altered state of mind to perceive them. It is easy to be aware of them if you put just enough awareness on it. In fact, most of the time we indeed ‘hear’ these semi conscious thoughts, but we had trained ourselves to ignore or suppress these thoughts. Now it is time to untrain that suppression and acutely become aware of these thoughts.

So what is so important about these thougths that we should be aware of them?

Simply put it is our conscience and it speaks the truth. It is for this very reason we trained ourselves to suppress these thoughts and it is precisely for this very reason that I ask you to become aware of them.

One of the biggest problems that people, unknowingly, face is not knowing their root problems. We seem to think lack of sleep, stress, diabetes, fear, anger or other such surface issues are our problems. But in fact they are mere symptoms of root issues within.

Becoming aware of our semi conscious thoughts helps us get to the root cause easily. Many times even the semi-conscious thought stream is not aware of our root causes but they are definitely aware of causes just below the layer of external symptoms. By simply training yourself to observe these thoughts will enable you to easily identify the root cause within no time.

To give you an example, I used to have the habit of becoming very angry whenever my dog (he’s a lab) dragged me along by its leash during the walks. I got used to pulling him back rudely and sometimes even slapping him after we reached home. I had always assumed I got angry because the dog was not obeying my commands. As I trained myself to become aware of my semi conscious thoughts, I came to realize the actual reason for being angry. I was afraid passers-by would laugh at me for being ridiculously pulled by a dog – I did not want to be laughed at. This simple awareness helped me to work on my core issue – fear of being laughed at (instead of assuming lack of obedience from my dog).

Also these semi-conscious thoughts aid an early diagnosis of an issue. We get to stop a habit or belief from easily becoming a major issue in near future. An example of this is I found that my anger issue was increasing at one point by the simple process of anticipating situations for me to get angry and it only a matter of time before I would be provoked simply because I was ready to be. Becoming aware of these thoughts, I soon curbed anticipation. That took me a long way in my anger management.

The third benefit of training yourself to monitor semi-conscious thoughts is its ability to point out the truth at the right time. Imagine a situation where you are discussing an opinion with someone. Without your knowledge the discussion is soon turning into an argument. By being aware of your semi-conscious thoughts you would be readily able to steer the course of discussion away from it turning into an argument for there will be a time when your semi-conscious mind goes ‘Whoa there! Watch where your conversation is leading to!’

The fourth and most powerful attribute of the semi-conscious mind is its ability to manifest its beliefs into reality and to affect thought transference. What do I mean by this? After training myself to be aware of this undercurrent thought stream, I soon became aware of the most silent thoughts among this stream. They were so swift and silent that it took me a while to even find out they were there. These are the thoughts that form and cement beliefs, manifest our reality for us, and even seem to have the ability to reach out to others. It seems to come from that part of the mind that is beyond established conventional science. But that is for another article because it is a very advanced practice.

In the next article, I would touch upon few simple techniques to easily train your conscious mind to become aware of your semi conscious thoughts. I will also share tips and tricks to harness the power of these thoughts for your benefits and not let it become your worst enemy.