Welcome and congratulations on taking the first step towards an easier you. Blueprint autonomy is a program I have developed to walk us down a path towards freedom, independence and autonomy from those things bringing us down.
The first step is the most valuable and it will change life.
There is a whole series of actions steps that follow on behind this one. I have categorized them to resemble the same colored belts that a martial artist would progress through towards their mastery of the sport. If you have trained in the martial arts before you will recognize how wrong my previously statement was – the mastery gained is of your mind and body. I want us to follow a similar path.
If you haven’t trained in Martial Arts Mr Miagi has answers.
Premise to Step 1 – Distractions will lead you away from where you want to go.
Your brain creates an entire model of your world based on the five senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch & smell.
Then, your brain acts as a filter to speed things up and limit the number of your thoughts down to something a big more bearable. Imagine how taxing life would be if you had to consciously think about taking every breath or every little move of your eyeballs?
The important next part is that as your brain sees patterns in what you do or what you see it locks down familiar neural pathways and your conscious thoughts soon become unconsciousl For example: If you drive you car to work every morning I bet you can drive there without even thinking about which turn to make. Additionally, if you are in an unhappy relationship I bet that there is a sudden sense of dread come down on you the minute your silence is broken by the partners voice.
This leads to your first big limitation we are going to work on removing. Unwanted explicit memories or habits.
FAQ: How do distractions harm you? If life is not going as swimmingly as you had had hoped your brain will be full of all those unwanted unconscious patterns (dredging up the past or painting a dim picture of the future) and before too long the patterns join together to become the white noise going on inside your head which is too loud to listen to. The tendency is to YouTube, TV, radio, books, drama whatever distractions you can find to tune it out.
Part A [Mental]: Stillness of Body & Focus of Mind
We are going to take an age-old approach and hit the problem head on.
So exactly what are we trying to achieve here and why?
What: Essentially I are trying to show you how to calm the white noise by simply acknowledging it.
Why: After a while your will be in the best possible position to control your stress levels, anxiety levels and depression levels yourself.
Observe your thoughts – Become Aware
This step all will put you on a path towards tuning out and controlling your unwanted thoughts then replacing them with more constructive ones.
Your brain is a very efficient organ. In this case too efficient. What your brain does is it takes all your memories combines them with your paradigms (simplified model of the world), five senses and decides its own course of action or emotional state for you. Quite often this learned behavior (from the brain) was once what you wanted but as soon as you try to grow as a person or try to change yourself this type of brain pattern becomes a hindrance.
What we need to go to retrain your brain is to first learn how to observe what is really going on in there. The effort required here is one of unlearning. I bet this is the only time in your life that you have ever sat down and consciously tried to unlearn something. That is why it is not automatic.
If you are struggling with this step on your own I keep on reading, alternatives, options and further assistance is provided below.
Part B [Physical]: Sit Still and Isolate the Distractions
Don’t scoff just yet. It is one of the things every parent struggles to teach their boys but how many of you can actually do it yourself. Here is the test. Sit yourself down on the ground cross-legged or on a chair in a quiet room with NO DISTRACTIONS.
That means turn off the television, turn off the mobile phone, put away the tablet, No radio, No music, No interactions with other people or kids or animals and once you are in your desired position no sleeping, scratching, itching or moving.
Now set a time for 60 minutes and see how you go. Very few people will be able to do in their first few tries. Why?
You have been trained by modern society and modern conveniences to constantly seek out distraction and constantly allow these distractions to do all of your thinking for you. It is almost like you will do anything and everything required to avoid having to actually address your inner thought patterns.
Your emotional state is regulated by the current TV show you are watching, or the current Facebook post you are reading etc. After years and years of these distractions you will lose the ability to BE YOU without defining yourself by the distractions.
In this activity what we are trying to achieve is to remove you from the distractions and get you back in touch with your own ability listen to what going on inside your head.
Slow down and listen. Open yourself up listen to what white noise is doing inside your brain. Keep the bursts short if it’s really active.
Part C [How-to]: Combine Stillness & Openness
This is when the rubber really hits and ground and your effort (or more correctly lack of effort) materializes a very small but very important change.
Depending on where you are within your life journey this step may be easy or incredibly hard. Ironically the older you are the harder it becomes. That is because the neural pathways in your brain have become like concrete. Don’t give up your brain is very plastic and is not the boss of you. Keep at it. Change is inevitable.
This step whilst it is a basic foundation stone for the rest of the course it is something that you will revisit over and over again. If you do think you have mastered it, keep practicing.
Unfortunately I have had to go through this exercise in multiple different minefields of my life so I am a veteran.
This is the best way that works for me. Isolate as many of your sense as you are comfortable with (depending on the day).
Your physical location can make or break your success. My ideal location is on a camp chair out in the wilderness several miles away from other humans never to a blazing camp fire. This gives me a big head start when trying to escape distractions. (nature sounds and smells also naturally act to recharge your body’s rhythms).
Option 2: Quite often a trip away for the weekend is out of the question. In that could I would go to a local park, reserve or beach (as long as they are naturally uplifting places that is). Alternatively back in the days when I had a back yard I would set myself up in a camp chair (maybe even fire up the fire pit) and get comfortable.
Option 3. A quiet corner of your house or shed preferably when no one else is about or awake.
Option 4: Just as effective if none of the other options were available to me I would drive the car out, park somewhere quiet and recline the seat back a big, settle in for an hour or two. In some cases just 100m away was all that was needed.
The requirement here is a quiet place free from people interrupting you and asking questions you don’t want asked.
Start of with sitting for ten minutes. Work your way up to 45 minutes before moving onto the next step. Keep at it and you will get to 60 minutes.
I also turn my phone onto flight mode (no data, no phone calls & no alarms) and use an app called the INSIGHT TIMER. It has a countdown function and also tracks your progress from one day to the next (or month).
It also works really good for background noise to get you off to sleep when you need it. It’s free.
Isolation of hearing sense: aka Binaurial Beat Therapy
When you are starting you are going to want to listen to some calming music.
The music that works best for me are binaurial beats. Stick with me it is not flute music.
Binaurial beats is a marketing name given to sound frequencies (made by humans) to mimic certain natural resonance frequencies of the brain. If you want to know more about Binaurial beats here is a link.
Try it out, and try out all sort of different things until you find your groove. The INSIGHT TIMER app I mentioned above has hundreds of different options for you.
I have also got a pair of noise canceling wireless earphones I use occasionally nowadays but back in the days of being relegated to my man shed a pair of ear muffs or ear plugs worked great too.
Isolation of the seeing sense:
- Close your eyes, or
- use an eye mask, or
- tie a bandanna over your eyes, or
- turn the lights out.
Whatever it takes to remove that distraction.
Isolation of the smelling sense:
- melt some essential oils or
- burn scented candles or
- incense for all the old school hippies (welcome my brothers, sisters) or
- camp fire smell is definitely my favorite.
Once I tried mosquito coils. Not for the faint of heart but it works.
Isolation of the touch sense:
Here is a couple of ideas I have tried (in order of most preferred first) but this really all about getting comfortable and reducing that desire to fidget and twitch around.
- Adjustable reclining full length floor chair/lounge
- bean bag
Isolation of the taste sense:
You shouldn’t really need to do this unless you have been kissing the wrong ash tray (reminds of an ex0girlfriends 🙂
Have a drink of milk if you need to cleans you pallet.
A Focus away from the Distractions:
This is a strange exercise so have a read of the manuscript below and dream up your own similar scenario in your head while you are taking your quiet time. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who slowly loses all their limbs and all their senses. Who would you become?
Question: Who are you?
Answer: I am Remy
Question. What are you?
Answer: I am a human. Two arms, Two legs, Head, Brain, Awesome Beard. Human
Question: What do you like to do?
Answer: I like to mountain bike, run, camping, hike, surf my long board, motorcycle touring, writing – all the normal stuff a human does.
Question: Would you be any less human or any less Remy If you were in an accident and had both your legs amputated then you couldn’t walk?
Answer: No. Still the same. I could get prosthetic and still do a lot of stuff.
Question: What if you also lost your eyesight?
Answer: That would be a lot harder. I guess I wouldn’t be able to do as many things but I would still be the same person. I might be able to get around in a wheel chair with a dog.
Question: What if you lost all means of communicating with the outside world. No voice, no hands to type: You can hear but you can’t communicate?
Answer: I guess inside I would still be the same but without all that stuff I would be a lot less Remy.
Question: Now imagine that you also lose your ability to hear?
Answer: I wouldn’t be much more than just a blob would I?
Question: So to summarize are you saying that if you lost only a few limbs and a few senses you could still be you but if you lost all of them you would no longer be you? What sense does that make? Are you the sum of your interactions with the world?
FYI. There is no conclusion to this scenario. It is just an exercise in getting you to see things differently.
Alternatively as you get some practice under your belt you can focus on your breath.
Summary, Congratulations & Sneak peek of Yellow Belt Step 2.
I hope you didn’t find all this too onerous or too confronting. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Congratulations on making it all the way down here.
Yellow Belt preview:
Many moons ago parents taught their children that they each had a guardian angel looking over them on one shoulder and a guardian devil looking whispering evil doings in their ear from the other shoulder. The children were then taught that they have to listen to both sides of the story to come up with their own middle ground.
Such an outlook will give you a major advantage in life because you will no longer see everything in black and white. I.e. you will not be setting yourself up for failure on average 50% of the time.
Disclaimer: The advice below is not and never will be a substitute for the correct medical advice. If you feel you need further help seek adequate help from the right professional but choose wisely.