Be the mountain you already are

Finding home base in our minds is a very different process from the frenzy of getting on base, stealing another base or running the bases. When we find home plate in our minds, we can stop trying to get somewhere. The running is done. We've come home.

Home base has been compared to a mountain. Not finding home resembles a frantic monkey. The monkey does not learn to be still from the mountain's example. All its scampering on the surface the mountain makes no impression on the monkey's urge to flit about. There's no way for the monkey to succeed if it tries to be still, serene and solid like the mountain.  A monkey can only be monkey-like unless rigor mortis sets in.

Mountains don't try to be still, they are serene by their nature. When our minds are still, we're home free. Mountains don't get agitated by monkeys scampering around. Mountains are simply present amidst all the fuss and fury. Mountains can only be mountain-like unless a volcano erupts from its core like some frantic monkey bursting with chatter.

Home base is mountain-like by its very nature. There's no trying to be at peace or becoming still. At home in our minds is no change in our monkey minds, only a discovery of an unperturbed state of mind. We simply observe our monkey minds from an immovable place.


The wagon wheel of life

I adore the metaphor of life as a wagon wheel on its side. There's a rim, spokes and hub with a hole in the middle. Finding home base in our minds is like an ant exploring the outer rim and eventually reaching the hub in the center of the wheel.

The metaphor of the wheel reveals several hidden choices for each of us to consider:
  • where to be on the wheel
  • which direction to head in next
  • when to make a turn
When we're traveling along the rim of the wheel, we're convinced we're making progress. Our past is behind us and our future lies ahead of us. We have a personal history of great importance to our conviction to stay on the circumference of the wheel. We rarely have a sense of getting nowhere, going in circles or kidding ourselves about making significant progress. The passage of time and coverage of distance provide us with physical proof of really getting somewhere.

At some point in our lives, we question our sanity. We wonder if we're climbing the wrong ladder, chasing after mirages and getting nowhere quickly. At this point, where ready to get off the rim and move down a spoke of the wagon wheel.

When we get on a spoke, life is about our immediate experience. We come from being here and now rather than mindlessly doing stuff for the future. We're attuned to how we're feeling right now. This adds a delicious dimension to what we're doing whenever it feels right, timely and balanced.

When we reach the center of the wagon wheel, there's a big hole there. We discover we're nobody significant as a separate individual and all encompassing in spirit. We find we're better off not-knowing that knowing too much. We're aspire to be as empty as the center of the wheel so that we can be filled with inspirations, peace of mind and deep enjoyment of simple pleasures.

We realize we feel at home in the center of the wheel as if the rim and spoke was merely a dream of being homeless, lost and abandoned in eternity. We can feel the difference of coming home to the center after becoming very attuned to our feelings on the spoke of the wagon wheel.


Finding home base in our minds

The game of baseball is loaded with metaphors for understanding life. This game resonates with us at a much deeper level than the day to day fluctuations in victories, rosters and stats. There's a place in our minds that resembles home base. It feels like we've hit a home run when we find that home base on the inside. We're in a place to walk off the playing field with a victory over fear, guilt and separation. The game and playing field look very different after finding home base in our minds.

Finding home base feels like coming home after going round on a long journey that leads back to its beginning. We've arrived after a long spell of seeking, striving and fidgeting. We gain a sense of finding where we belong among all the different states of mind we've visited. This state of mind revises our outlook and identity from all the misconstruing and mistaken identities we've tried on for size.

Finding home base changes our standing in the world. We're no longer caught up in power games that make us feel diminished or over-confident. We stand for something that we've found inside ourselves. We obviously respect ourselves with this delightful finding. We then earn respect from those who have enough self-respect to respect others. We've dropped the drama of seeking approval from those who are way off base.

Finding home base provides us with freedom from striving for some big success or from swinging for the fences. From home base, everything seems perfectly valuable as is. While processes go round and round without ending, nothing needs to change.

This morning I brainstormed different ways to find home base in our minds. I've come up with sixteen approaches so far that I'll share with you soon.

Here's a list of approaches I've explained thus far with links to those posts:

1. The wagon wheel of life

2. Be the mountain you already are

3. Using the other horizon

4. Go within or go without

5. Happily held in suspense

6. Replacing eyesight with insights

7. Calling a timeout to chill out

8. Viewing evidence with innocence

9. Nothing to forgive

10. Preparing a bridal chamber

11. Feeling our feelings

12. Barking up the right tree


In proximity to processing

I'm currently reading two books by Richard Louv about the restorative effects of spending time immersed in natural settings. I'm getting the impression that nature can heal minds and bodies by its presence as eternal processing. Unlike mechanistic procedures which come to an end, natural processes appear endless, regenerative and nurturing. Rather than confine and control us, growing things liberate us from too much linearity and structure.

This use of natural processing bodes well for the replacement of costly colleges with collegiality. It suggests that higher ed for college dropouts can restore their emotional freedom in lieu of perpetuating their emotional baggage from negative academic experiences. It shows a way for higher learning to be good for our brains. It accommodates a shift away from print literacy to more immersive, oral and visual modes of comprehension.

It seems to me there is not much to say about this with printed sentences. There is, however, much to show about this with a multimedia vocabulary.


Setting up egalitarian learning

When I look back at all my peak experiences as a teacher or trainer, in every instance I was a learner. I already knew the subject matter I was helping others understand. But I didn't know which way I could design the instructional experiences that would work the best. I didn't know how well any particular approach would function until I tried it. I also didn't know what other approaches would come to mind after I tried out the alternatives I had already generated.

I also wondered about the individuals learning from me. I saw them as users of what I was offering that would face challenges applying the ideas/methods in different contexts. I didn't know how familiar they were with related topics or how prepared they felt to implement what we were exploring together.

I shared all this up front at the beginning of those courses. I explained how much I had to learn and what I didn't know yet. I set myself up as an exemplar of "life long learning". I showed them how it's possible to love learning and live one's own questions passionately. I made it more accessible to find one's intrinsic motivation for learning that eludes most students amidst required courses and objective grading pressures.

In my view, this created some virtuous cycles. The more they learned from me, the more I would learn from them. The more confident and powerful they acted, the more I would do the same. As with any virtuous cycle, it was energizing to feed off each others' successes and realizations.

I also see this as leveling the playing field or looking eye to eye while seated at a table. I reduced the power distance between us and got off my high horse. The removal of the usual superiority/ inferiority dynamics nurtured lots more take away value and mutual respect for all of us.  I set up egalitarian learning where each of us could make valuable mistakes and learn from each others' example. We were all in the same boat sharing our experiences of life long learning. Our love of learning could be felt in the room.


Serving others' interests

We cannot serve others' interests if we don't know what those interests are. We can take a swing at it and hope we connect. We can make a pretentious show of serving others' interests without actually getting those interests served. We may hit the target and find others' saying their interests have been served by us.

Sometime we experience others' interests as difficult to identify accurately, too conflicted to sort out or too opposed to our own interests. We will then abandon the project of serving others' interests and serve our own instead. When we serve our own interests, we'll begin to win at others' expense. We'll identify ourselves as winners and others as losers, misfits or deviants. We'll assume there's no ways to get both sets of interests served since they appear irreconcilable. We'll stick to our own kind and distance ourselves from opportunities to learn about outsiders' changing interests.

Institutions are too big to serve others' specific interests. They are limited to serving the common good or the public interest. They avoid pandering to special interest groups who seek to gain advantage over others or win at the expense of the common good. Institutions also pursue their own interest in self preservation at all cost. They presume there is no way for the public interest to benefit from an institutional collapse. Institutions show signs of arrested development and bureaucratic stagnation because there's no way they can learn how public interests have changed. The common good is a given, not something to explore or evolve.

Customer service presumes to understand customers well enough to give them extra attention in ways they appreciate. For instance, the entertainment industry tries to psyche out its audience well enough to give them what they'll find engaging next. A market-based enterprise will serve its customers well knowing this will generate revenue, profitability, customer loyalty and favorable buzz. The more service that connects, the more interests the customers will reveal in hopes of getting more and better service. Customer driven enterprises realize that serving their own interests becomes a losing game. Rivals are eager to jump on the mistake and customers are willing to switch providers to another that serves their interests better. It pays to learn others' interests and change with them as they evolve.

In our increasingly networked world, every participant can serve others' interests easily. Passive consumers are fading away. The opportunities for contributing to others's interests abounds. We have new ways to jump in, help out and lend a hand. The distinction between providers and customers gets blurred by the interconnections back and forth. It pays to give as well as to get. Networking makes it far easier to discern others' interests. Everyone in a network is putting specific, personal interests on display where others' can get a good read of them. It's more obvious how everyone of us is a bundle of interests and alliances. There are many ways to serve us and as many ways to serve others. It's no longer the big deal that market-based enterprises make of customer service. It's far more responsive and nuanced that institutions' clumsy attempts to serve the common good. It's a big switch from a culture spawned by individuals and enclaves serving their own interests exclusively.