The Value of Honest Doubt

The Value of Honest Doubt

500_honest_doubtHave you ever run yourself mentally haggard trying to convince yourself to see a spiritual truth more deeply or clearly than you actually do?

It’s easy to do. After all, the fundamental principles behind the human experience are quite simple to articulate. According to Sydney Banks, Mind is the infinite formless intelligent energy behind all things. Consciousness is our ability to know reality and our ability to understand how our reality is created by thoughts. Thought is a source of all mental activities and source of all feeling, actions and reactions.

Our experience in any given moment is created by the interplay of these principles.

When I first came across Syd’s teachings, I was frankly underwhelmed. I didn’t disagree; I just didn’t see anything earthshaking. I had studied intensively with Byron Katie, and the notion that thought generated our experience seemed obvious.

Still, I kept returning to Syd’s work because of the profound changes I saw in people who had been influenced by him. And one day my own understanding shifted, deepened, expanded, and what had seemed obvious and verging on trivial started to blow my mind.

I’ve shared many of the insights that have emerged from that in previous blog posts and videos, but I want to take a little different look at things today.

You see, there’s a way in which we can become addicted to knowing. We can chase insights as if our wellbeing lies in having more of them.

When actually, our wellbeing is nonnegotiable. Invariable. Innate.

Our essential wholeness does not depend on our moment to moment experience of life. As I’ve written before, we don’t have to feel okay to be okay.

But damn! I don’t know about you, but sometimes all I really want is to feel okay. Which last week had me wrestling with this notion of essential wholeness. I was frustrated by feeling fragmented and, frankly, stupid. Where was my innate wellbeing? Where was wisdom?

How could I get there from where I was?

What good does it do me to have a theoretical understanding that I am okay when I feel cornered by the limits of my current thinking?

And then something funny happened.

It occurred to me to simply doubt.

To drop the gospel.

To quit trying to feel or believe or find wholeness and wisdom.

To drop my story that I should trust it.

And to drop into my honest in that moment experience of WTF? Where is it?

To ask in an open hearted and abandoned way, are we really whole? Does God or Mind or whatever you call it have our backs?

Where is wisdom? Is it really always on, only sometimes obscured?

I dropped into the questions, which had a whole different feel from struggling to believe in the answers.

And I can’t account for just how or why, but as the days passed, I started to get a glimmer.

A felt sense of something beneath the surface.

Not an intellectual understanding, but the barest shimmer or breath of a feeling that something is there.

Dim. As yet unknown. But palpable.

I don’t know what, if anything, that does for you, but it did a lot for me. Somehow out of my honest doubt I had touched bedrock.

I don’t know what the bedrock is. What it means. How to talk about it.

But I know down to my toenails that it is there.

Thank you, doubt.

Your turn: What’s your experience with what Byron Katie has called trying to live beyond your current level of evolution? What might doubt have to offer you?




Photo by HebiPics via

How Big Should a Life Be?

How Big Should a Life Be?

how_big_should_life_be_1095860966_a03c9cb69c_zShould it be as big as possible? And big in terms of what? Money? Prestige? Power?

I’d like to suggest that bigness is at best a poor measure of the value and import of a life. Rather than size or scope, I suggest we look to characteristics such as grace, relatedness, peace, generosity – even, and this is my favorite, joy.

A few weeks ago I listened to Juliet Stevenson’s exquisite reading of George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Stevenson’s beautiful voice and nuanced interpretations animated this beloved classic. There were so many things to love in the novel and in the performance that although it was a whopping 35 (!) hours long I’m looking forward to listening again.

What on earth could compel me to devote that much time to listening to a novel? The simplest way I can explain it is that the writing and reading left me with a nice feeling. The kind of nice evening that is profoundly orienting, that points us in the direction of our best selves.

Ringing in my ears and in my heart even now are these closing lines. This is for everyone who has ever thought that they need somehow to live bigger, be more, have more, or do more in order to make a difference. It all counts, people, even, or perhaps especially, the small stuff.

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Would you like to explore the immense practicality of joy?

The following quote about joy landed in my inbox last week, and it resonated deeply with me and how I see my life and work these days. It has everything to do with what I am up to as a coach.

“As one of the seven factors of enlightenment, joy is not only a fruit of awakening but also a prerequisite. Joy creates a spaciousness in the mind that allows us to hold the suffering we experience inside us and around us without becoming overwhelmed, without collapsing into helplessness or despair. ” ~James Baraz, Lighten Up! from a post at Tricycle.

I have come to see the joy is always available, even in the midst of dark hours. Joy is closely allied to insight and wisdom. We can use our sense of the presence or absence of joy as a navigational aid in life.

As a coach I help my clients explore the immense practicality of joy. I point them to the spiritual principles behind the human experience. As their understanding deepens, their joy increases. They act with greater ease, creativity, grace, and wisdom.

I have room for two new clients in March. If this resonates and you’d like to have a conversation to see if we are fit, visit my coaching page and schedule an interview, click here.


What Are We Trusting When We “Trust the Process”?

What Are We Trusting When We “Trust the Process”?

egg-414174_640_trust-the-processI’m writing this post a few hours after being the guest master coach for the Moore Master Coaching program. Coaching in front of an audience is the perfect setup for self-consciousness. Naturally, I think, thoughts arose about how to produce a result, whether or not we were making progress, and if I was making a good impression. Such concerns with performance are human nature.

While such concerns are natural, they also inhibit presence, authentic curiosity, and access to wisdom, which gets in the way of good coaching. (One might argue that it gets in the way of any coaching at all.) What’s more, trying to quell those concerns can set up an internal struggle that makes things worse. What’s the coach to do?

Whether or not we are coaches, everyday life presents us with similar challenges on a regular basis. Frequently we experience insecure thinking that, if we give it significance, inhibits access to the guidance we want and the well-being that is our birthright. The self-help literature is full of suggestions for managing insecure thinking, but the very idea that we need to manage it adds to our anxiety.

If insecure thinking blocks access to guidance and well-being, and if strategies and tactics for managing insecure thinking amplify it, what the heck are we to do?

The answer is simply and always that we are to trust the process. But what does that mean?

In today’s coaching call, what that meant for me was trusting in the innate creativity, resourcefulness, and wholeness of my client (whom, by the way, I had not met prior to the call) as well as the greater space of Intelligence in which the coaching conversation took place. I trusted that those things were present irrespective of the ebb and flow of my insecure thinking.

This is such an important distinction. It is not necessary that we get beyond our insecure thinking in order to access wisdom and well-being. All that is necessary is that we not take that insecure thinking personally. We can trust whether or not we feel trusting!

When we don’t take our insecure thinking personally it becomes background noise. The example I used in debriefing today’s coaching session was the sound of a television playing in the next room when you are trying to read. Whether or not the sound is a distraction depends far more on how much attention you give it than on the actual volume.

When we trust the process, we trust not only that there is a greater source of Intelligence at work in the world than our personal thinking, but also that this source is available to us in real time and in real circumstances independent of our moods. Yes, it helps to have a quiet mind. But that doesn’t mean that guidance only comes to a mind perfectly free of doubt and distraction.

In a very real way, the less we insist that we achieve some perfect state of receptivity and quiet in order to receive guidance, the more readily and frequently we will notice it as it arises.



What’s your understanding of trusting the process? Share it!

Relax! A Better Idea Will Be Along Shortly

What can you do when you’re just plain stuck? When you understand what’s actually going on, the answer is quite simple.

The origin of Shaboom and an invitation to apply for individual coaching

The name of my company, Shaboom, is taken from a tune written and recorded by The Chords in 1954. The refrain, “Life could be a dream” captures the promise and impermanence of dreams. It calls us to be bold, visionary, and creative. It honors intuition and alternate ways of knowing. And it reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.

It’s exactly what I want for myself and for my clients.

I have room for a couple of individual coaching clients before the end of the year. This is an opportunity to work with me at a deep level to get unstuck, hook up your genius, and take bold action to create your dreams. I’m interviewing prospective clients now. To learn more and apply, please click here.

Can You Really Trust the Process?

Fractal ripple image for going with the flow and trusting the processWhy and how can you go with the flow, especially when the stakes are high?

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life and business has to do with trusting in something infinitely larger and more creative and resourceful than my limited thinking. This Thursday, I’ll be Julian Freeman’s guest in a Google Hangout that explores that trust.

We’ll look at questions like these as well as questions you share with us by chat or email:

  • What are we trusting when we “trust the process”?
  • What does trusting the process look like when you are in business?
  • What about when other people are involved? Does that make a difference?
  • Can you trust too much? When does trusting the process turn into apathy?
  • What can you do when trust seems elusive?
  • How can you live in trust more often?

Here are the details:

Julian Freeman
WHAT: Google Hangout on Air (watch live online or catch the replay)

WHEN: On Thursday, October 16, 2014, 10:30 Pacific time (1:30 EDT, 6:30 GMT)

Click here to watch the Hangout

If you’ve got questions about any aspect of trusting the process and living life in the present moment, email me, and I’ll be happy to raise them with Julian.

I hope you’ll join us!


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