the Power of Silence
by Gary Null, Ph.D., with Vicki Riba Koestler
Recently a communications satellite malfunctioned, with
the result that a lot of the nation's electronic paging
devices did not work for a couple of days. This
technological breakdown was serious enough that it was
page-one news, but the interesting thing was, if you
read beyond the headlines, that many pager owners
weren't all that upset. They, were, rather, relieved.
With their beepers temporarily silenced, there was one
less bit of noise they had to experience and respond to.
Their world became a little quieter, a little calmer.
This led me to imagine a
scenario. What if all our nonessential
telecommunications could go on the fritz for awhile?
Emergency services would still be in place, but for
ordinary life, there would be no telephones, faxes, TV,
radio, e-mail. The effect would be like that of the
satellite breakdown ten times over. People's lives would
be much quieter, and the subtle sounds of nature would
come to the fore. People would be able to think more
clearly. They'd have more time to look into the meaning
of their lives, instead of just scrambling to keep up
with the trappings. In short, they would discover the
power of silence.
This kind of selective power
outage probably won't happen. But on an individual level
we can make it happen to some extent, simply by turning
off the appropriate switches when we can. There's
another simple step we can take--we can stop talking so
much. Then we can sit back, or go for a walk in the open
air, and revel in the quiet.
Members of the baby boom
generation are sorely in need of silence, because many
have been silence-deprived all their lives. This is the
first television generation, and if you think TV is
mainly about visual images, think again. Many people use
it as a noise box, keeping it on all the time to fill
the air with sound. Plus consider the quality of the
sound that comes from TVs versus the sound that comes
from the home entertainment modes used before TV was
introduced--radios and record players. With radios and
records the sound is the whole point, so care has to go
into the music and talk that comes out of them. With TV,
though, the picture is ostensibly the main point, and
sound is a sort of window dressing. So TV music and talk
can be junkier than radio or record music and talk,
because since we're distracted by the visual element, we
won't necessarily notice. Some people have spent their
whole lives not noticing exactly what kind of noise
they're bombarded with, day in and day out.
In addition to television,
other elements have made the baby boomer generation's
formative years noisier than their predecessors'. This
generation was the first to grow up with telephones as a
birthright, not an option. The number of automobiles in
the United States boomed along with the number of babies
in the 1950s and 60s; and along with this came increased
traffic, noise, and destruction of natural environments.
Rock and roll came on the scene in the 50s, and has been
getting more amplified, and pervasive, ever since. Add
up all these factors and you can see why silence is
something that many of today's adults did not grow up
with. Some don't even know what they're missing.
Where We Are Now
The Monks of New Skete
are a group of monks who make their living raising and
training dogs, and writing books on the subject. They
have a holistic approach to their animals, and one of
the things they suggest is silent walks with your dog,
as a way of training him and of forming a deeper bond
with him. A friend of mine tried this approach recently,
with interesting results.
Every day she'd been in the
habit of taking her dog for a walk, and attempting to
teach him how to 'heel,' 'sit,' and 'stay,' by
authoritatively saying these commands, while putting
pressure on his training collar and using hand gestures.
He was a frisky, energetic dog, and sometimes he'd
listen, and sometimes he wouldn't. Then one day she
tried the silent walk approach.
"It worked at least as
well as when I was constantly talking to him," she
reported. "Everything he needed was already there,
without the words." But the benefits went beyond
the training aspect. The dog seemed more relaxed. There
did seem to be a new kind of nonverbal communication
happening between them. What's more, she herself felt
more relaxed, and like she could spend some of the
walking time thinking about things other than whether
her pet was obeying. Now, she doesn't walk the dog
silently all the time, but she does so periodically, and
it continues to be a positive experience. She tries to
incorporate quiet into other parts of her life as well.
Some people, like my friend
with the dog, have learned to appreciate the power of
silence. But many haven't, and with today's
proliferation of instant communication devices, it can
take a real effort to try. On the plus side in the area
of new technology, one great development has been the
personal headset radio. At least with these, people are
less likely to inflict their own noisy entertainment
choices on others.
Is your daily life too noisy?
Could you benefit by building some tranquil time into
it? Also, what are some of the issues you might be
dealing with during periods of quiet introspection?
These are the areas we'll be exploring in this chapter.
Have you tried quiet?
A woman came down to my
holistic ranch. She attended all the workshops, but she
and a small group of people talked nonstop. There was no
introspection. I kept telling them that their best time
here would be spent in quiet, doing nothing except being
with nature. No one listened. They were talking every
time I turned around. The woman wasn't going to stay a
second week until I sat her down and told her that she
had learned nothing. Of course she disagreed. She
thought she had learned a lot. I repeated that I thought
she had not learned anything because the most important
message is always the silent one. I asked her to spend a
second week there in silence, and she did.
During the second week, I asked
every guest to eat in silence. I used candlelight. I
played soft music. There were flower arrangements. There
was no conversation. For the first time, people knew
what it is to eat properly--not just to eat vegetarian,
organic, gourmet food, but to eat in an environment
conducive to inner tranquility. Now they were aware of
what they were eating. They lost weight. They felt
energized. When I took them out and had them sit by a
rock, listening to the wind, they were able to be in
nature. Suddenly they could hear a symphony in the wind.
And they could let every distracting thought out of
People would tell me,
marveling, that they could hear a thousand different
sounds in the wind. "I heard the top of the palm
trees moving. And I heard the grass moving. I heard the
animals in the background, and the birds." All the
sounds had been there before. It's just that they tuned
them out because they were focusing on their own
Most people are nervous. This
is especially true of intellectuals. I think
intellectuals are the most insecure people in the world.
They're always trying to impress you, always talking and
never listening. Or if they are listening, they're
simultaneously planning to get you to shut up so that
they can correct you. Trying to get them to be silent is
like putting them in handcuffs. They fight it.
When a person finally breaks
through and places his or her energy in the moment, he
is able to transcend the normal boundaries of visual
perception, smell, and taste. The person becomes
integrated. Suddenly he knows what it is to be a bird
flying. Like a bird, which never contemplates its death
while flying, the person doesn't think of himself as
falling out of the sky.
But we fly with fear. Any time
we function from fear, we automatically respond before
we think, because fear causes a hasty response. It's
preconditioning from our families and our background. We
learn not to take chances. We learn that good girls
don't do that. We automatically let these old messages
affect our energy and our thinking. Then we wonder why
we keep on having the same problems. Why don't things
get better? They don't get better because new thoughts
are not replacing the old ones. We're not allowing
ourselves to become integrated. We need to change
completely to see how we can integrate.
So, this woman simply
experienced a new way of being in an environment. She
had been there all week, heard all these sounds, and saw
all these things, but she had never allowed herself a
sense of focus. And that's the difference. What do we
focus on? She focused on the integration of all things,
If you do that, you'll never go
for a walk again in the same way. When I walk, I walk in
silence. When I eat, I eat in silence. My friends will
tell you that when they come over to my house for
dinner, it's a relatively silent dinner. I want
candlelight; I want soft music; I want to enjoy the
occasion in a quiet and integrated way.
It's interesting how an
experience changes completely when it is experienced
with integrated thoughts. I could have you sit down for
an hour and meditate. And you could wonder about whether
your children are alright and where your husband is. If
your mind is somewhere else, you are not integrated. On
the other hand, you could be there in the moment. That's
where healing occurs.
What's good about being alone?
I find taking time to be
alone a valuable experience. A time of quiet, during
which I do not engage with people, is crucial. That is
one of the reasons I do not, at this point in my life,
choose to be in a relationship. When I am involved with
someone, every moment that someone is chattering in my
mind. Now I have that quality time to focus on me.
Most people never think about
how good it is to have quality time to themselves. If
you're in a relationship, you may have to ask the person
you're with to allow you time alone. Such time is not a
luxury. I've never seen anyone have a healthy, balanced
life without it.
How do we balance ourselves on
Physically, we must
change our diet and detoxify. We must eat only healthy
foods. If we're eating only because we're frustrated, or
anxious, or not dealing with our problems, we need to
recognize this and stop. As long as we take in only the
best food, and only what our body requires, our body
will detoxify and we'll be healthy. If we add exercise
to the mix, within a year we'll see a body that we'll be
We often don't believe we can
be both sexual and spiritual. We feel we must repress
the body in order to enhance the spirit. But that's a
limited perspective. We can have a healthy, sexual body
and a dynamic and free mind and be spiritual also. The
problem, as I see it, is that we feel we need
interpreters between us and our higher being, that we
aren't capable of making our own determinations of how
our spiritual self can be manifested. But we don't need
interpreters. As long as I love life and nature, and am
a good-hearted person, then I am as spiritual as any
other human being. It's that simple. Spirituality is the
unconditional giving of the love we all possess. We were
born perfect but we spend our lives denying it. The
person who is spiritual accepts his or her perfection
and then manifests it.
I don't believe that we have to
suffer in order to grow. That is part of the dogma used
in controlling people. If we control a person's
sexuality and his or her mind, then we control that
person. Very clever people throughout history have
sought to control our natural impulses. If we believe or
feel something that doesn't conform to the prevailing
view, we are made to feel guilty or we are punished. If
there is a long history of people being punished for
following natural impulses and being spontaneous, then
people won't, unless they are very courageous.
Have you ever had a blissful
experience that your mind couldn't fully comprehend but
your body could experience?
Some of use are afraid of
feeling anything unless we can analyze, control, and
manipulate it. We are never free until we disengage our
minds. If we disengage the conscious mind, we allow the
present to exist. A sense of overwhelming euphoria and
bliss can occur only when the conscious mind is
suspended. We try to do Spirituality 101 on the weekend
and wonder why we don't get it. It's like my friend who
meditates every morning and then goes into rages.
The only time we usually
surrender to the moment is when we are one with nature,
looking at a sunset or smelling fresh-cut grass. Then,
we're not thinking of anything, just enjoying the
moment. The things that give the most pleasure,
innocently and honestly, are those we experienced as
children. We don't often allow in that innocence when we
are adults. We can't explore bliss if our mind is
controlled. We have to get out of our mind to have the
Which emotions have you lost
You need to identify the
emotions you have lost touch with in order to get back
in touch with them.
Many people can operate in only
two emotional modes--rage and calm. These people are
difficult to deal with. One minute everything is
alright. The next moment they don't like something you
say, and they blow up at you. When you deal with these
people, you generally hold back your true feelings to
avoid becoming the recipient of a hostile overreaction.
What precipitates rage? Most
people who react this way do so because they feel that
their power is being challenged. As soon as you say
something, they contest whatever you say. They have a
difficult time being quiet and listening because hearing
what another person says honors the other person. Not
listening is a defense mechanism.
People who react with rage need
to realize that nothing constructive ever comes from
their outbursts. The people they deal with only pull
back or retaliate, and real issues get lost. Once this
realization occurs, they can step back and try to hear
what other people are saying. By listening to others,
you're letting people know that they aren't going to be
yelled at or rejected for sharing their feelings. That
gives them a chance to express themselves in an honest
Re-analyze your communications
on a day-to-day basis. Realize that you can express
yourself without rage and still be firm. When you
replace rage with determination this doesn't mean you're
turning yourself into a passive person, but, rather,
that you're becoming a more effective communicator.
On the other hand, if you tend
to be too passive, you may feel better when you express
yourself in a more determined way as well. Express
yourself with passion. In our everyday world, we assume
that it's best to appear passionless; everyone is
supposed to maintain an emotional monotone. To
compensate, we then look for people who exaggerate their
emotions. We find these people in films, in athletics,
in the press, and even in politics, and we use them as
emotional surrogates. They express what we wish we could
say, and feel what we wish we could feel. Isn't it
better to get in touch with your own thoughts and
feelings and express them yourself?
How is anger positive?
Not long ago I produced a
documentary on cancer, providing a forum for many people
to speak. It was surprising how many patients were
angry. Anger is a very positive emotion in that it is
energy. But realize that there is a difference between
anger and rage. Rage can hurt; anger can create change.
In fact, I can't understand people who never feel angry;
it seems to me that if you don't get angry at things,
you have no passion for life. There are so many things
we should be angry about, as the first step in
constructive change: genocide, racism, injustice, and
environmental abuses. I use my anger to create a
constructive process. Anger at the complacent and
ineffective conventional medical establishment has been
an impetus for my documentaries on AIDS and cancer, for
Most people get so
comfortable and secure in their predictable lives that
there is no anger left to project as a positive emotion.
Remember the anger of some of the baby boom generation
as they protested the Vietnam war? What happened to
that? We could use some of that anger today to improve
our society. Anger can be very constructive--it depends
on what you do with it.
What do you say or do that
creates a lack of trust, compassion, or interest in
If you have
been negative, uncaring, or insensitive to others, those
people will not be there to support your ideas, dreams,
and goals. They may appear to encourage you, but
actually not care. You need to be aware of how you treat
people. If you want other people to be interested in
you, you've got to be interested in them. If you want
people to care for you, you've got to care for them.
You've also got to undo what
you've done in order to go forward. You can't just walk
away from someone pretending that what you've done to
them doesn't matter. Merely saying you're sorry isn't
enough. It doesn't undo what you've done. You've got to
recognize the negative qualities you've attributed to
other people and take ownership of what you've done. In
other words, you need to acknowledge to the other person
that what you've said or done has come from you and has
nothing to do with the other person. That realization
will clear the air and restore sanity and caring into
What do we say or do that
creates a lack of trust, compassion, or interest? Gossip
is one good example. Why do we generally talk about
people behind their backs? We're bored. We thrive on the
negative energy that's created. We feel part of a group.
We envy the people we're talking about and want to pull
them down and make others think less of them to build
ourselves up. But by putting someone else down we're
showing that we don't feel very good about ourselves.
Do you trust people who gossip?
You shouldn't, because they're going to do the same
thing to you. It's better to tell someone who gossips
that you don't want to hear it.
When you're talking about
someone behind his back, you're dishonoring the person.
It's always better to talk straight to someone. Tell him
or her what you feel. Say what's bothering you. Be
honest. Then you at least have a chance to resolve
issues and clarify misunderstandings.
Gossip is not about the person
being gossiped about. Gossip is about the people who
create and perpetuate it. Be aware of your actions and
stop gossip when you can, or at least show others by
example when you don't participate in it. You can't make
the world like you, but you certainly don't need to
engage in any behavior that would debase you or anyone
A person of spiritual
commitment doesn't engage in gossip, never denigrates.
There's no purpose to this kind of talk, except a
negative one. The rule is this: If you don't feel good
being on the other end of what's being shared, don't
share it. It's plain and simple--just say to someone,
"Don't share this with me."
Another way we undermine
people's trust is by breaking our word--lying or not
following through. How many times do you give your word
and then break it? That shows people that they can't
trust your word. They may not tell you about it, but
when you make a promise they'll know you are lying, and
not honor you for it.
It's important to make people
aware of their deceptions. Years ago my aunts and uncles
used to get together for Sunday canasta games. On one
occasion, when my cousin was there but had left the
room, my uncle asked, "Doesn't he realize that he
exaggerates everything and that we know it?" I said
to my uncle, "Why don't you tell him? He's going to
spend the rest of his life exaggerating, thinking that
it's normal, unless we tell him what he's doing." I
proceeded to tell my cousin about it. He hated me for it
and never spoke to me again. But that's his right. At
least he knows what I feel.
You also create a lack of trust
if you have a lack of principles. Some people stand for
nothing. They go with the popular trend. Whatever allows
them to survive, they accept for the moment. That person
can never be a real friend because they can turn at any
Giving only half-hearted help
shows people that you aren't really interested in them.
Let's say you're moving and a friend who offered to help
helps only a little bit. You relied on that person and
were disappointed. You won't want to have that person
help you ever again.
We definitely won't trust
people who are inconsiderate and unkind. These are the
very first traits we notice about others. We like to
think that we have the right to be unkind when we don't.
Being that way immediately takes us to our lower self.
It denies our higher virtues. If you can't be kind to
someone, don't be around that person.
Where does inconsiderate
It originates in our
youth. As children, we are innocent and honest until
we're conditioned to become what our parents or
guardians expect of us. That's when we start changing.
But this is not to say that we can lay the blame at
others' feet. Yes, at one time we had to conform to
others' expectations. We were vulnerable little people
and it was a matter of survival. But now, as adults, we
act that same way because we are stuck in a pattern that
was formed in our youth. We're not even consciously
aware of not being ourselves.
We can begin to break out of
our unnatural behaviors by identifying what we do and
how we feel that makes us uncomfortable. We need to
notice when we act in these ways. And we need to ask
ourselves how and why these behaviors served us in the
past. One of the ways we can do this is by journal
Do you think before you speak?
Always think before you
say something. See what the reaction to what you say
could be. A credit card company owed me a lot of money.
I had paid the bill, and my secretary then paid it again
without knowing I had already done so. The company
promised a refund would come, but it didn't. Three
I simply called and said,
"I have a question for you. I'd like your help. Do
you think you can help me?" The person said,
"That's what I'm here for." I explained to the
person that the company owed me a large amount of money,
almost $23,000. And I explained that I have to pay
interest every single day on anything that I owe, but
that they had had my money for three months and had not
paid me interest and had not paid me back my money. They
had just kept promising it was coming. Then I simply
asked the question, "How would you feel if this was
They resolved the situation
that day. What if I had called and said, "You
jerks..." etc., etc. I'd have been verbally
assaulting someone on the other end who would have taken
it personally and who would have then figured, "I'm
not going to help this guy. To heck with him. He can
wait forever to get his money back." In short, it
pays to think, what is the feeling we want to create?
What result do we want? If you want a result that is
supportive, cooperative, and helpful, then that's the
energy you have to share.
You see, we have choices.
First, think, what result do you want? Your results are
going to be directly based upon your choices. So think
well before choosing because once you put an action out
you cannot control the reaction. That's crucial. You can
only control your action. Anticipate what kind of
reaction you're likely to get. In all probability you
will get that. You can create a spiral of negativity. Or
you can create a spiral of positivity.
Do you usually communicate
positive messages, or negative ones?
Most of the time, you
probably let people know your problems. Instead of
telling people about all the good things that have
happened and how good you feel, you let them know what
does not feel good, and what is not working.
What are they supposed to do
with this negative information? Should they be
sympathetic and agree with you? That won't change
Watch how you communicate with
people. If you catch yourself dumping a problem in
someone else's ear, ask yourself, is there a purpose to
this? Can they do anything about it? Can they help me?
Have we already discussed this problem time and time
again, ad nauseam? If there is no real purpose to what
you're doing, you may want to take the conversation in a
more positive direction. Or simply terminate it.
If you gave up all denial, what
If you gave up all
denial, you would create a new life, because you would
allow yourself to be who you really are. Most people
never wake up feeling truly themselves. They know their
name, their job, what they do in life, their routines
and responsibilities. But those don't necessarily fit
the real self. There may always be an emptiness that can
only be filled by getting other people around you. Look
at the people who are afraid to be alone. These are the
very people who should be alone, because they'll never
help themselves by being with other people. They'll just
use the other people. I see it every day.
Only by being alone can you
have a silent mind that allows you to think about who
you are, not who you were told you are. Then, the people
in your life will be there unconditionally. No
relationship will ever take precedence over self. We
have the mistaken notion in our society that the high
point of our adult life is a relationship. I find that
for most energies that's very unhealthy. It's one thing
to relate to people, to be with people, to share with
people. That's normal, that's human, that's important.
But you should never be your relationship.
Because what happens is that you cannot differentiate
self from the relationship. You never have a sense of
being a complete and whole person. You're always
attached at the psyche to someone else. And then you get
engaged in the conflicts. Then your mind must be
coinciding with the other mind to create harmony before
you can do something. Everything must be a mutual
decision. There's never any space that's really your
Here's the question: How are
you going to grow, how are you going to give yourself
time, if everything you do is always explained to
someone else, with the expectation of acknowledgment?
Most people do not communicate
honestly about what really concerns them in
relationships. They know that if they did so, that might
jeopardize the relationship. So holding on to the
relationship, which at least gives them companionship,
becomes more essential than being honest about what
really bothers them and how they want to grow.
The only person you should
really be relating to is one who is growing, so that you
can grow together. Unfortunately, relationships
generally stay together longer when both people are
stagnating. Both are insecure about stagnating alone;
they'd rather stagnate with someone else. You'll know
you're in the wrong relationship when most of what you
hear are complaints. Trust me--that's the wrong
relationship. It's people using each other.
Someone called me whom I
haven't spoken to in a long time. The person has a
health problem and said to me, "Gary, I want to see
you. Remember, we go way back. I need to come over and
I said, "No."
"No? Why not?"
"Because we have nothing
to share. And if you want my help as a stranger, you've
got to get in line behind all the terminally ill people
that I do see. They come first. They're strangers too,
but that's my priority. The fact that we spent time and
intimacy together means nothing. It's what we are today.
To call me after years of not speaking to me, because
you have a problem, doesn't honor me. That just shows
that in desperation you are looking for a person to help
And that's what we do in this
society. We use people in ways that are convenient for
us. It's not healthy.
I wouldn't allow a relationship
where what a person did was whine, moan, and complain
about a problem. If you're got a problem, fine. Resolve
it. And how do you resolve it? First, change your
perception. That changes the problem. If you are not
willing to change your perception and live by a new
perception, then you're not honoring yourself, which
means that you cannot honor the relationship. It's just
a dumping ground. How much negativity do you want dumped
into your psyche before you say, "Enough!"?
I wouldn't treat anyone less
well than I would treat a rose. What would you do for a
rose each day? Give it sunlight, positive energy, and
what it needs to grow. Why wouldn't you do the same
thing for a human being? Give them love, unconditional
acceptance, and a sense of care. When you do that with
people who are ascending and honoring their spiritual
self, then you've got two spirits sharing a higher
consciousness. That's a positive relationship. We see so
few of these, we think we are not capable of them. But
we could be.
What positive and negative
images do you focus on?
You focus on the things
that people say to you or about you. You also focus on
the things you say about others. Once you say something,
your energy goes out there and you're connected to it.
Now you've aligned yourself either positively or
negatively to something.
Power is not in the emotion.
Emotions are overemphasized. Psychologists and other
therapists focus upon the significance of emotions. They
focus on whether we're emoting enough. It never occurs
to them that some people do not overly emote because
they don't need to. With all due respect to the feminist
movement, I take exception when they state that men
don't know how to express emotions. I know an awful lot
of men who don't express emotions because they're happy
campers. They express happy emotions and that's it.
When you fill your mind with a
lot of self-doubt and negative thoughts and destructive
images, the emotion is automatically going to be
negative and destructive. Everyone knows when you're
negative. When you feel good about yourself your actions
show it. But in our society, people think you're not
Fortunately, there are lots of
people in this society who require very little for
happiness. That gets other people bent out of shape.
They'll question another's right to be happy because
they're steeped in misery and all their thoughts are
negative. They're always on the attack. They're always
trying to disempower somebody else to empower
You come along without the need
to disempower anybody. You just feel good because you
have good thoughts. You're happy and so you make
Change your perceptions about
Take your negative
thoughts and reverse your perspective on what is
happening. Ask yourself, how can I make this situation
into a positive one? What good can come from this? Doing
this will allow you to change negative patterns that
bring you down. You may not change another person or the
circumstances that are bothering you, but you still
change your perception of what is happening.
I learned this lesson a long
time ago. While driving my car in heavy traffic, I saw
two men yelling at each other just because one had cut
the other off. They got out and fought. I thought, how
stupid; what's the purpose? Someone is going to end up
with broken teeth for nothing. At that point, I decided
that any time traffic was slow, I would use that time as
an opportunity to think. Now, whenever I am in a traffic
jam, I don't get upset. I'm glad to be where I'm at
because I have a couple of extra minutes to think. I
didn't change the circumstances, but I changed my
reaction to them.
List your problems and ask
yourself, how can I alter them? There are always
options. You will only find these options, however, by
facing your problems and looking for positive solutions.
Then, suddenly, they are not such a big deal. If you
ignore your problems, they will remain on your mind.
They will rob you of clarity, balance, spontaneity, and
Facing a problem is itself part
of the solution. You can't always change the problem,
but you can change how you feel about it.
You can have happy, positive
feelings only if you have happy, positive thoughts.
What comes first--the
thought or the emotion? The thought is always first. But
thoughts can have delayed responses. Something that
you've been thinking about can cause a reaction a week
later. It will eventually appear because your thoughts
are energy that you put into your being.
A thought is a word or a
sentence or a whole paragraph that you've created.
Consider how many times you've thought about something
that you didn't do and should have done, or that you did
and wished you hadn't. Or perhaps you should have done
more or you should have said something and you didn't.
How many times do you think about that? How many
opportunities have you had and lost, and then relived a
thousand times in your mind? Every time you relive a
moment, you relive it by creating thoughts.
The thought, then, is not the
reality. But how many times have you made thoughts
reality? Most people assume their thoughts are reality.
For instance, we're in a small southern town. There's an
all-white audience. Suddenly, a black person comes in
and sits down. How many people are going to think a
negative, fearful, racist thought and make it seem as if
Thoughts are not real. They're
merely images. Allow the image to come in and go out of
the mind. Empower only that which you want to make real.
A thought has no power until you let it have power.
Therefore, I can allow every thought to come into me and
then say, "That's a thought I want to act on, and
that one I will give power to."
No one can have only positive
thoughts. Even if you meditate, you're not going to have
only positive thoughts. I've never met more unbalanced
people than people who meditate. I have a friend who's a
producer. He's a maniac. And yet he goes out every day
to meditate. He'll eat vegetarian food. But he's a crazy
person. He thinks that as long as he's meditating he's
normal. But he hasn't dealt with his underlying fear,
anxiety, and insecurities.
Imagine what would happen if
you decided that it's not meditation, or yoga, or
correct breathing that's going to make you de-stressed.
And it's not health food that's going to make you
healthy. It's not vitamins or juices that are going to
change your life. Rather, it's your attitude that is
going to change your life. Your life's going to change
because you're not being overly critical about anything
you do wrong.
There's nothing more damaging
than an overly critical mind. If you need to do
everything right you will invariably fail because
mistakes are inevitable. Then you're going to beat up on
yourself. Say you eat only organic produce. Then, one
day, you don't. You beat up on yourself as if now you've
broken the perfection. Or think about the people who
will eat only organic produce, but become so anxious
about it that there's no flexibility left in their
temperament. That kind of highly rigid mindset may
appear normal but it's not. It is not an integrated
Stop blaming your feelings on
circumstances. Otherwise every time you get abused,
every time you get spoken to in a way you don't like,
every time anything less than perfect happens, you're
going to overreact. Allow yourself to be much more
fluid, and much more flexible. Allow things to go
through you. You cannot control your thoughts, so just
let them be. You can control your reactions to
circumstances, however. Remember, if someone says
something critical to you, don't react. They’re just
words. They’re just syllables, vowels, consonants.
They have no meaning until you make them have meaning.
Only actualize what is
constructive. Think in terms of watching your thoughts
parade in front of you and going, "No...no...that
one I like. That one supports my intentions. That's
healthy. I'll take it in." Let go of all the rest.
They mean nothing.
When you dwell on something,
that creates your emotions. And when you dwell on
something that's not positive, the negative emotion is
going to come right behind it. Maybe you're wondering
why your blood pressure is high, your cholesterol's
high, and the stress hormone cortisol is being pumped
into your system. These things are partly a result of
your focusing upon negative issues. The negative emotion
that automatically follows sets off a negative
biochemical reaction. And if you're habitually negative,
it will take a long-term physical toll; you may even be
setting the stage, physiologically, for conditions as
serious as stroke, heart attack, and cancer.
So get out of this destructive
pattern, if you're in it. Switch from looking at
problems to looking at solutions.
Do you focus on problems or
You can't focus on
problems and ideals at the same time. The ideal is where
the solutions lie. If you focus on problems, you look at
the negative in everything. You make excuses that keep
you from going forward by saying, "I would,
but..." You end up wasting a lot of time.
How do you keep from being tied
up in the problem? How do you keep the problem from
becoming more essential than you? Look at the ideal.
Ideals always transcend problems.
What attracts you to things?
What attracts you to
jobs, people, activities, places? Why do you want to be
in a place? Out of curiosity? Because you feel reverence
for it? Because you want to be inspired by it? Because
you want to connect to it? Because you feel you are
connected to it? What attracts you to sex? Is it relief,
loneliness, love, obligation, fun, exploration? What is
Keep a diary, or journal. When
you start to identify in your diary what attracts you to
things, you will start to see the real self. The real
self will always attract you to something. Feel the real
self. Feel its energy. There's an excitement that comes
from an honest identification.
I have a friend who was a
powerful attorney. Now, he's a gamekeeper. He always
loved animals and used to spend time in the Central Park
zoo. He loved going there and looking at the animals.
One day, he told me he felt successful, but not happy in
his job. I asked him, "What would you do if you
could do anything?" and he told me that he would
love to be an animal keeper. I asked him why he didn't
go for it, and he responded that he had too many
obligations to consider. His family would never approve.
I said to him, in essence, forget all that. If your
family won't love you because you're changing your
career, then go find another family. I know some people
would berate me for that advice, and so be it. The man
charted his own course. He followed his passion and is
so much happier and healthier for it.
Too often we block our
essential life energy. When we reconnect with it, we've
practically catapulted ourselves into another dimension,
a new universe of capability. That universe exists for
each of us. If it didn't, we wouldn't have people able
to do unique and strange things without ever having been
taught. We have all had inspirational thoughts, times
when we did not know how to figure something out, but an
answer suddenly appeared. We weren't taught the answer.
It was just there. In our most vulnerable moments, when
we're truly ourselves, we can connect with that higher
consciousness of life, or whatever we wish to call it.
I'm suggesting we should make ourselves vulnerable and
open to that all the time, and make our decisions
connect with that. Then we have no down side to life.
Where do you find meaning?
No person can give me
meaning if I don't have it for myself. People are
forever seeking meaning through someone else who has
meaning. Why do you think people join religious groups,
become part of political campaigns, or follow those with
dynamic personalities? It's because they seek meaning
that is absent from their own lives. The healer must
start by healing himself, and the warrior must start by
ridding himself of fears.
I live my life in three-year
increments so that my meaning and goals are for three
years. Whether I'm dealing with environmental issues or
health issues, I have that time to develop new
attitudes, skills, and criteria. I can't keep using the
old skills for every new task. We frequently do not want
to learn new skills. We want to apply the old formulas
to new challenges, but it does not work.
My attorney friend who became a
gamekeeper was one of those who accepted the challenge
of learning new skills. He had to learn a whole new
profession, but he loves what he is doing--his life has
new meaning. Perhaps he was a lawyer because his meaning
came from his parents. But he discovered that getting
your meaning from others isn't good enough.
If you're a middle-class person
living in the city, chances are your meaning will be to
maintain your security. You will not take chances. You
will not exceed the boundaries--physically, mentally, or
spiritually. You'll support a political system that will
take care of you; freedom will not be important. You
will live through other people's freedom by watching TV
or reading magazines. You'll live a fantasy life but not
be able to actualize it because security is so
The real you can't come out as
long as you honor the old meaning. You can't have a new
self and an old meaning. Your life is boring and
predictable because there is nothing new. The problem
is, every time you look for something new, you are
besieged with fears and excuses. You must transcend the
boundaries and fears and break off into whoever you are.
You may not even recognize who you really are, but you
must accept whoever you become.
Gary Null. All Rights Reserved. Excerpted
from Gary Null's Book, The Baby
Boomer’s Guide to Getting it Right the Second Time
Around, Published by Carroll & Graf.
Gary Null, the popular Pacifica Network talk show host, is a consumer advocate, investigative reporter, environmentalist and nutrition educator who has written more than 60 books on health topics. He says that, "You must be empowered before you can be whole," and he empowers his listeners with life-changing facts that promote wellness.
Mr. Null has conducted over a hundred major investigations and has produced numerous documentaries in which he encourages his viewers to take charge of their lives and health. Among his dozens of videos are titles like "The Pain, Profit and Politics of AIDS," "Chronic Fatigue," "Diet for a Lifetime," and "Cancer: A Natural Approach."
Gary Null lives the active, healthful life that he advocates. He regularly competes in races and marathons and has trained thousands of people in his "Natural Living Walking and Running Club" to do the same.
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