— Bruce Lee
React or respond
The ability to self-observe may be one of the valuable and powerful things you can do to transform yourself and your world. You can choose to self-reflect and respond or you can react and allow your emotional mind and body choose for you.
In my experience, when you respond rather than react, you gain not only the ability to choose how you will react to any given situation or stimulus, but you also open yourself up to receive intelligence or wisdom beyond the mind.
My first recollection of consciously choosing to respond to situations or people differently occurred in 2006. At the time, I was living in Northern Virginia, commuting to work each weekday. On almost every trip, I found myself in a severe traffic backup where the highway transitioned from five to two lanes after passing through a toll plaza.
Everyone was in a hurry to get to their destination and seemed to have little patience or respect for the other cars on the road. The whole mess was caught up in inching their car forward to prevent anyone else from cutting them off and passing in front of them.
It wasn't enjoyable at all. It could take 15 to 30 minutes to travel just one mile.
I don't remember where I came upon the idea that I could choose how to react to any given situation, but I started practicing this idea each morning while driving to work.
When a car tried to cut in front of me, I decided to think that the driver wasn't trying to disadvantage me but simply trying to move forward, and they were moving along as traffic and conditions allowed as best they could. If someone was trying to get into the flow of cars and no one was allowing them to enter, I'd make space so they could easily drive in front of me.
Consciously choosing to respond this way completely transformed my experience driving to work. I arrived at work feeling a lot less stressed. When I realized how powerful the technique was and I got more comfortable practicing it, I started trying it out in situations at work.
For example, one year I found myself working with a company that had incredibly heavy-handed process control that oftentimes took Herculean effort to implement. Rather than dwell on how toxic and dehumanizing the situation was, I decided that it was a learning experience that would one day help me do something to help change situations like this.
By the way, this is actually what happened! It's a great example of how self-observation changed me and allowed me to do my little part in helping to change the world.
Now, this technique doesn't work every time for every situation. We are human, after all, and now and then, there's always the exception who is trying to bully their way forward. Despite our best intentions not to react, we sometimes do. This is where the ability to let go comes in.
In 2016, I came upon an audio recording by Lester Levinson. I had never heard of him before, but what I heard him say that day motivated me to learn more about him.
I learned Lestor Levinson had an amazing story and was the inventor of the Sedona Method, a simple way to let go of any painful or unwanted feeling in the moment.
He created the Sedona Method based on his own experience of healing himself after being sent home to die after his second major coronary. He was also suffering from depression, an enlarged liver, kidney stones, spleen trouble, hyperacidity, and ulcers! A hopeless and unimaginable predicament to overcome with little hope of turning it around.
I had heard of the Sedona Method and tried it before, but I didn't think there was anything to it. How could asking myself a series of simple questions like "Could I let this feeling go?" possibly change anything?
After reading Lester's miraculous story, I decided there must be something to it, so I started studying the method. I have been a student of the Sedona Method now for over six years. After studying it and practicing it for this long, letting go has become almost automatic for me.
When you combine self-observation with letting go as Bruce Lee alludes to, it truly changes you in very visible and palpable ways that are apparent to yourself and others as well.
I also learned that pausing to self-observe and letting go allow you to connect to intelligence and wisdom beyond the mind that you can bring to everything you do.
This is how Space Beyond Boundaries was created. It was created out of nothing shortly after the pandemic led me to look more deeply inside. It's also how I write this newsletter almost every week for over two years, starting from nothing.
What has been your experience with self-observing and letting go? How has it impacted you? Or if you haven't practiced either of these ideas yet, let me know if you have questions.
P. S. Our next SPACEB webinar/workshop is on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. The session is open to anyone who receives or reads this newsletter. We are always practicing self-observation and letting go at these sessions. Learn more and sign up here.
— George Gurdjieff