Around the same time, six or seven years ago.
I took the stand to transform, using whatever would work, my pervasive sense of dread, hopelessness, sadness, fuck-it-all apathy … and the underlying shame that in retrospect held everything locked up.
It started after I met that guy in my bathroom mirror and began saying I love you’s a half dozen times each morning.
I also start work doings focus wheels, something that I got from the Abraham-Hicks.
They described focus wheels as writing down, on a blank sheet of paper, a progression of better feeling-thoughts and, as a product of that sustain focus, generate a greater sense of relief, serenity, hope, and optimism.
As I would discover, the real work of a focus wheel emphasize the reaching for and finding a better feeling-thought.
They also said to express that better feeling-thought as a statement of belief or what many years ago in the Seth Teachings they called bridging beliefs.
With time, I learned that I always have within reach a better feeling-thought.
Now it’s a matter of exercising that inner muscle of reaching and finding something better.
Focus wheeling is about toning that muscle and priming your brain to scan and index better feeling-thoughts
For example I start using these bridging beliefs,
- I’ve been HERE before.
- I KNOW what to do.
- And I can do this AGAIN.
- It’s just REACHING for a slightly better feeling.
- See, we can DO this, so let’s
Every morning at our dining room table, seated at my primary deep-creative place, I would do a Focus Wheel, using many of the bridging beliefs that I just outlined.
If something happens during the day, I would do another Focus Wheel to get me back to a calm, mildly positive mood.
However, over the course of two or so years, I found a few issues with the approached as I had understood it.
First, I noticed that I tended to rush through writing them with the mistaken belief that speed would translate into a high energy-state.
Through weeks or a few months of trial and error, I got much better results by slowing down and going deeper into each statement.
Second, I found that some statements did not produce any shift in my awareness nor did my body feels it.
Again through trial and error, I started curating one-line statements that, upon write-saying them aloud and witnessing my doing it, would produce pronounced positive effects.
Third, sometimes I struggled with finding a better feeling-thought to write and would stall out.
Abraham-Hicks would tell us at that point of drifting, start another focus wheel. However that rarely worked for me.
My intuition suggested that I needed an end-state in mind before I start writing, a beacon or a destination.
I then put at the center of my focus wheel how I wanted to feel upon completing the twelfth statement.
There I play around with a lot until I settled on a simple triplet: Joy, Brimming Aliveness, and Gratitude
After that, I rarely drifted or stalled.
Fourth, After several months of focus wheeling I noticed a call-and-response pattern.
I would write-say something and immediately feel my body respond.
Many years ago, I earned a certification from the State of California as a hypnotherapist. So knew a lot about suggestive nature of the human mind and how to whisper to the subconscious.
So I played around with the making each statement a gentle command.
In Speech Act Theory, we’d call this a performative declaration, an utterance or statement that when spoken or written also constitutes an action.
So for example, when I tell you that “I love you” with the intention that you experience that from me, the utterance and its deed are one, a performative declaration and not just a descriptive or representational one.
The key here is Intent.
So I experimented on a daily basis by cuing my Cognitive Unconscious with simple and clear suggestions with the underlying intent of a command.
Overtime this transformed my understanding of focus wheels, suggestive thoughts, and intent into something far more powerful and predictable.
Performing one of these every day began the slow process of rewiring my neurocircuits, and parlaying these experiences into the foundation for Gratitude Games.
Fifth, I realized that my focus on shifting my mood created resistance to making the shift to a slightly better state.
After several months of witnessing my performance of focus wheels, on focusing on one suggestion with greater mindfulness and congruent intent, my intuition suggested that I slow it down even more, using the four-second breath cycle to embody each call-and-response command.
I then discovered that I was spending about 18 to 20 seconds on each of the twelve commands, giving ample time to feel the response ripple or wash throughout my body.
I then began listening with intent, stretching my inner-sense of hearing to sense and then later understand the more subtle and quiet voices within me.
This reminded me of a going the symphony and tuning my awareness to hear just first-chair cellist or flutist.
I now reworked each of the twelve statements to work as an invocation, command, and felt-sense performance.
As I wrote each of them down, with mindful intent to experience a response to my command, I would experience each one as a slightly elevated felt-sense state.
Around that time, as you recall, I would watch a TV show every Saturday morning from Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer.
For me it was a masterclass. While many people would see it as a way to train dog owners and rehabilitate their dogs, I saw it as a metaphor for training myself and my Cognitive Unconscious.
I took his notion of becoming the alpha pack leader and commanding pack mind of the dog to become quiet, submissive and responsive to the wishes of the pack leader.
And then I applied that in my focus wheeling. I made my conscious deliberate self the dominant leader in the pack mind comprised of my various subpersonalities, each with their own needs, complaints, demands, and yappy voices.
In the course of that, I clarified and reinforced my relationship with my Cognitive Unconscious and subpersonalities: I am the boss. I’m the sheriff around these parts. My word is the law.
This new outlook has become what my friend and occasional coach, Steven Feinberg, calls an advantage point.
My advantage point constitutes the fusion of a deepening Mindfulness, an ever more Deliberate Intent, and expanding Heartfulness.
Sixth, I noticed a huge difference from how I wrote, or more precisely, how I inscribed each induction or call-and-response command.
I mentioned before my tendency to rush through it.
I had noticed the tendency to just get it done, like flossing my teeth, a necessary but disengaged activity.
So I asked myself on my afternoon walking meditations, you know one of my strollitations,
“How can my journaling become more effective and meaningful?”
Then I remembered a punishment from my childhood.
As a young guy, I was restless, disruptive, and bored … probably the result of food allergies, a super high IQ, a super low emotional EQ, and harsh disciplinarian Catholic nuns who had zero tolerance for non-compliant thought and behavior, with a special dark place in their hearts for boys.
Anyway, I recalled writing out 100 penances after school before I could go home, with something like: “I will not disrupt the class. I will only speak when I raise my hand and am called upon.”
As I would learn later, and why, this little penance had the opposite effect, on the short term and long term.
These forced rote penances fueled a raging bonfire of anger, resentment, and retribution.
I became more systematically disruptive, buffered and uncaring about my effect on others.
Eventually this led my parents to abandon parochial schools and get me into more open and less disciplinarian public schools.
Long term, these written penances had bled through into my journaling Gratitudes and my morning focus wheels: I would disengage at a deep, instinctual level with most repetitive hand-written activities.
I had to rewire that, making my focus wheels more meaningful, positive and, you know, filled with Gratitude.
And, dang, if that did not start with forgiving those nuns and myself.
Seventh, I noticed a mild annoyance or resistance emerge at the initial thought of doing the morning focus wheel.
This led to an inquiry on another late afternoon strollitation on College Ave here in Oakland.
My intuition whispered something like, focus more on the ritual and less on the result.
I then realized that I had focused on getting something that lay in the future, you know, how much better I would feel or how much more long-lasting that mood would be.
And this last point, this focus on the ritual, brought it all home.
For me, performing a focus wheel as ritual represents deliberate practice of an aspiring master.
Like Steph Curry practicing his shots at 3 AM with a dedicated practice coach, focus wheeling as a ritual is no longer about the result.
Rather it’s all about being the result, not at practice or the dining room table, but on the competitive and noisy field of play.
Full immersion in it, the single-minded devotion to performing a supercharged focus wheel, alloys the practitioner, the practice, and the results into a transcendent experience of Freedom, Unity, and Gratitude.
So I took all these insights and improvements to the concept of a focus wheel, and reformulated a super-power version that I call a Unity Wheel.
I wanted something less intellectual and more experiential, emphasizing a more integrated experience, something that I could feel in my solar plexus, within and throughout my body.
I also wanted something that I could sense and feel work with each step.
So I took Abraham-Hicks concept of a wheel, and:
- Framed it as a ritual of a master preparing the day’s challenges, establishing a narrative context with me as a master preparing a canvas or sharpening his chisels;
- Worded each statement as a simple declaration, tuning the call-and-response cycle for immediacy and clarity;
- Set a reward got my completion of a morning’s focus wheel, using my first cup of tea or coffee as a small but meaningful reward to reinforce the habit of preparing my day;
- Inscribed each call-and-respond command with a whole-body intent, focusing my entire being on sense-feeling the response to the written statement;
- Spent about 20 seconds of the twelve or so statements, taking four seconds for inhaling, holding and exhaling;
- Witnessed myself say-writing each statement, surrendering to whatever showed up in the moment.
The Unity Wheel uses 12 or so gentle inductions, that will produce, with mindful performance, a small but meaningful shift in my awareness.
Unlike the traditional Focus Wheel, I created a list of these commands.
This prepared list of commands shifted my focus away from reaching for and finding the next better feeling-thought to activating a known and effective resource state.
For example, here are the first nine commands that I have used for years.
- FOCUS on the moment Now, breathing in 3 intervals of 4-seconds each.
- STOP all internal chatter and movement, blending with the Stillness within you.
- LISTEN to the Silence of the Eternal Now, sense-feeling its possibilities expand in all directions.
- SCAN your body for any unpleasant sensations, saying to each sensation, “Thank you for the gift of your presence. “I love you.”
- GAZE upon a beautiful object or space, expanding your sense-feeling of Unconditional Love with the declaration “I love you” three times.
- STEP into Vertical Time, sense-feeling the myriad of possibilities swirling in a vortex.
- KNOW that today already happened, turning out better than you could imagine.
I then begin with a clean sheet in front of me, inscribing right in the middle: Joy, Brimming Aliveness, and Gratitude – that’s my intention, the prevailing mood for the day.
Then I gaze at my Unity Wheel placemat with all twelve prepared commands.
I glance at one prepared command from the placemat and inscribe it on the clean sheet, starting in circular clockwise manner at the One o’clock position.
I make it a point of feeling the emotional truth of each statement and sensing where in my physical body it lands or resonates.
MY LIFE AS A COLLABORATORY
I know this might sound strange, but I used things like focus wheeling as experiments.
I began using my life as a laboratory in which I would run experiments, mostly of an experiential lab with a focus the neurolinguistics of Gratitude.
I begin to fancy myself a mad inventor like Nikola Tesla or Tomas Edison, only I would read or hear about some technique or protocol and say,
“Hey, that’s cool. Let’s make it better.”
I watched a lot of YouTube videos and cherry picked ideas from Abraham-Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Lazarus, Kyle Cease, Matt Kahn, Wayne Dyer, or whoever happens to show on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.
Or sometimes, on an afternoon walk, I would get with intuitive nudge or download from my Greater Self.
In my coaching young entrepreneurs, I began emphasizing the importance of bringing Gratitude in the Workplace and sharing some of the tools and protocols that I use.
Well, as the old saying goes, one thing led to another.
They became collaborative partners in what had been my very private secret laboratory.
With the full launch of Gratitude Games, I will combine live interactive sessions with individual and small-group online projects in what I call the Gratitude Collaboratories.