Cathy's Journey From Heartbreak To Peace
Cathy and I first met when her relationship ended.
In search of answers, among many things Cathy read my ebook, The 32 Building Blocks of Happiness (Now called First Face North).
We began talking and have kept in touch almost ten years later.
I have worked with thousands of Clients in all kinds of situations, but Cathy was the person I saw, who typifies the bravery and openness to finding truth and adapting to it.
This is the transcript of a call I did with Cathy because I wanted to give hope to people who may be suffering as Cathy was. And also so that they would know the steps to take to ease their pain.
Transcript of our Interview
Rob: The idea for this call was to track someone like yourself who I feel that is someone who has moved from one way of dealing with issues, to someone who has changed the way that they look at life, and dealing with problems if they come up. And someone whom I’d call a Truth Seeker. So, I’m curious, do you feel there’s a change in the way that you relate to life?
Cathy: Yes, yeah, huge, do you want me to try to describe that?
Rob: Yes, if you could.
Cathy: I think the biggest change would be, first I’m trying to describe where I was before all of this happened.
It was like, I wasn’t there as much as I’m now, I just feel I’m more there, you know. More present in the moment when I live. As I’m living my life I’m actually more present in the moment, so I’m looking at what happened all the time, or maybe not all the time, I still do get drawn into things, but that’s what causes me pain.
When I can stand that side of them it doesn’t cause me pain in the way it used to be and I can do this a lot lot more of the time. My decision-making process is better and my quality of life is just better.
Rob: In what sense would you say that your decision making is better and your quality of life is better
Cathy: So my decision making is better because I’m more there if you like. When something happens I’m less affected by my emotions and so I can see more clearly. so I’m not drawn in by that emotional process in the same way.
Before it was like I see things going on, but there’s lots of like perspex sheets if you like between me and it.
Now it’s like it’s clear or if I do get sucked in, it’s less dense than it was, I still, I can say sometimes I still get drawn into things, but mostly they’re less dense so yeah, I can see more clearly and therefore, I can make decisions that are good for me if you like and ultimately better for the people around me
Rob: Right, so, that’s interesting to say when you said that it’s, you can see it more clearly, but you also said it’s more like you’re in it.
Cathy: Yeah, yeah
Rob: So because, it seems like having more distance would help you to see it more clearly, but what you actually seem to be saying is that the more present that you are, the more relevant perspective, the more of it that the whole situation that you’re taking in which can enhance your decision making process.
Cathy: Yes, because if I were to decide what the perspex sheet is, I think the perspex sheet probably was my fears, so I was creating the perspex sheet if you like, so if it was something I didn’t like, I didn’t face it clearly because it was too scary, and actually that still happens to me with things that I realize them very close to me. But I recognize now when it’s happening and so now I can be more conscious about it.
Sometimes though, that takes time and I have to go and contemplate and get myself in a better place, talk to people who help me, and just get myself in a better place but, mostly there no need to do that so I can face them much more clearly
Rob: Right, okay that’s interesting, so it’s really a reduction in your fear and your awareness of the fears that holds you back, so what I would say is that you relate to life more truthfully, more openly.
Cathy: Yes, and I think, not sure I recognize it or see it clearly when it happens, I just know, I really just know that if I can do it that way I can come to a peaceful resolution. When I don’t do it that way, they non-peace or whatever you want to call it sits with me until I can do it that way
Rob: Right so, to clarify would you be saying that when that perspex sheet is there? That you are stuck and it doesn’t peacefully resolve itself.
Cathy: Yes, and I think that’s the thing that not many people talk about, is suppression.
You know, is suppression never works because it will come up again, so suppression thing never works. You might feel like it works or it might not be suppression it might be that you take yourself off and get lost in your work or start to get another relationship or something, but that underlying thing will still come up again.
And that’s why I think part of the process for me over the last years is I’ve been spending lots of time on my own so, that’s how I have time to let those things float to the surface. It takes, I realized, it takes quite a lot of time.
It’s what I think people have been calling ‘contemplation’ for thousands of years, that’s the word so that comes in to my head all the time when I’m doing it
Rob: So, it’s detaching from your everyday world, so you can reflect on there so you’re aware of what this sort of problem there are under the surface.
Cathy: You know, it’s interesting you say ’detaching’ it’s almost, it’s almost the opposite, isn’t it?
It’s actually contemplating what’s happened clearly not for the sake of, not that thing that we normally do, or I’d normally do when years gone by when I would think back to what happened in a way you can, you know, that thought process would go and would get stronger and stronger and I would think, you’d get more and more hurt by something somebody had done to you and it would wind around and around in your head, if you like and then it would spiral the other way around in your head and you realise it’s got nothing to do with you at all. It is that the other person wanting something and maybe you wanting something, so it just takes time to get over the perspex sheet is what I’m saying.
Rob: Right, so, the difference that you’re talking about is that, what you used to do is think about that situation and you think about the impact it had on you and so you would build up resentment and feel bitter and you would keep going round in that full process, and so, the more that you thought about it the worst it felt
Rob: Whereas what we’re saying is a distinction in that this time you’re thinking about it, but you’re thinking about it in a different way
Rob: And so, you’re not just looking from your perspective, but you’re looking from the bigger perspective of what happens to people that were involved, and what might’ve been their motivations. When you look from your own perspective you tend to look and you think, you know, they did it to get at me, it is personal to me, whereas in actuality what most people don’t tend to really think about the impact for other people they are driven by their own fears, their own ambitions and their own insecurities.
Cathy: Yeah, and that’s what I’m saying, if I give myself time I can always see that now. But what I can’t always do, is when I go back into that situation I can’t always stay there when I’m in the situation. I really feel very strongly, it’s practice to learn to do that, and that’s as I go forward now I can do that more, more and more. And it’s counter intuitive I know to many humans on the planet still, but that gives you a great feeling and it gives you peace when the most superficial obvious thing to do is to do what’s best for you, and that never gives you peace but to actually realize that ,certainly for me, has taken quite a long time.
Rob: Yeah, well that’s really interesting because that’s illustrated something for me. I have this idea that people who are depressed, my experience has been it’s because they’re looking at situations in terms of ‘how I feel’, ‘how this impacts me’, ‘how this affects me’. The more that they think in that pattern, the more narrow, more constrained their thinking gets, the more that they worry about how they are going to feel, you know, how to affect them in relation. Where really to deal with a situation more successfully and more happily is to rise up and look at what the actual situation is from an impartial perspective. And I think that since seems to be what you’re describing
Cathy: Yeah. And I think another important part of that process, which is why I struggled with it, because I realize that in one sense it doesn’t need any time, but in the real situation for the most human beings, it does need time. I realize that for me, I need to bring a lot of energy to it Krishnamurti talks about this, I didn’t know what he meant to begin with, but we need to bring a lot of energy to it.
It’s, I know, maybe it’s like your story in the book you wrote but in the black and the white we’ll feel there’s two things that going on in your head, you have to bring that energy to it to see it. When you bring that energy to it and see it, it’s so clear, it is so clear.
But it’s an ongoing process, yeah. And you get stronger and stronger.
Rob: Just to clarify, when you talking about the energy to it, do you mean you have to have full attention to do that?
Rob: And is it more than having your full attention? What I find is that most people, they’re on their phone they’re texting, they’re checking Facebook, you know, they’re multitasking and so their thinking isn’t so effective. They only have part of their focus on it, is that what you’re talking about?
Cathy: Yes, and that’s why, you know, I’ve, part of the process of what I’ve been through that’s the last 4-5 years now is, you know, I started off studying Buddhism and I’ve done all sorts of things. Meditation’s been a big part of it, and I, I think in the early days I didn’t really understand the value of meditation, but now what I’d say now is, you know, people talk about meditation and the whole idea of meditation is emptying your mind of thoughts. But of course, most people absolutely cannot do that!
But that doesn’t mean they are meditating badly, because I would say that meditation and contemplation sort of roll over into one. So when you’re on this journey, it’s fine, that’s the whole point it’s giving yourself the time just to sit still, and observe yourself.
It’s all about self-observation I can see that now, so if you observe yourself and see what arises and look at that, very clearly bringing this energy to it, you realize in most instances that makes you realise the futility of it. You know railing against something, that’s happened that you lost your job or something, railing against it or being upset because of it is maybe understandable and common sense, but it’s a futile process, and to me, that’s what meditation contemplation is about and that’s why it’s so valuable.
What I think a lot of people do with meditation is they just trying keep suppressing what’s coming up and it’s actually the other way around. We need to let it come up and look at it, and I think that’s a big misunderstanding there. And that’s why I’m saying it’s about time, I think a lot of people again, people that are close to me have said to me they don’t like doing that because it’s too scary a process.
I think quite a lot of people don’t do it, so they do immerse themselves in their life, their work, their children, the next relationship, whatever. To escape it but you can’t escape it, it’s impossible
Rob: Yeah, I have a slightly different take on meditation, but what you’ve explained to me it’s about going beyond, it’s about feeling. What you really feel, you now, it is the way I will put, and it’s about being open and being vulnerable and accepting whatever you feel, and it’s about moving beyond your fears and your preset ideas of how it should be.
And it’s finding a way to get you out of your own head, get out of your own story, your perspective, and look it from a broader perspective.
But I like what Joseph Campbell said when he was asked if he meditated. He said ‘Yes, I underline sentences’. And I think it’s whatever way that you find that you could go past those limitations and open yourself and forget about yourself and deal with what you have to deal with. Would you say that was?
Cathy: Yeah, what did Joseph Campbell say?
Rob: Someone asked him, if he meditated or what he did to meditate. He said ‘I underline sentences’ meaning he read other books, thought about them and then picked out the key points. If you relate it to someone’s problem, he wasn’t thinking about it from a position of self interest, he was thinking about what he does a great writers in history have to say about the particular relevant issue, and he was looking to expand his thinking.
Cathy: Yeah, and I think, so for me that’s really what I mean, when I was talking about contemplation. Yeah, the Contemplative throughout history, I think it’s a type of meditation even just words you can whatever but, so I think it’s allowing yourself the time to do that.
I think it’s actually not hard, it’s just a frightening process for most of us because we don’t want to accept now there’s many things arise in me still now, and I don’t like the fact that I still feel like that. But I know if I don’t look at that head on, that it’s not going to go away. I think the interesting thing is that when you do look at it head on, you don’t have to do anything other than look at it.
Because it just disappear when you look at it, because something happens that looking at it just the unimportance of it just becomes clear then, and then of course it goes. So it is just an action of looking at it but for most of us, there’s so much of it, it takes a lot of time and some of it is so close to our ego or whatever you want to call it. It ends up that we create situations where we, you know, so we get re-presented it in another way. But eventually will go if you keep doing it
Rob: Yeah. there’s a natural fear to being open and opening yourself to being vulnerable. And I think that’s what you were talking about when that fear comes up. And I think about people really suffering from anxiety and means that people are crippled by anxiety and yet what anxiety is, is a fear that something might happen. But the only way you can really deal with that is for the thing to happen because then if it isn’t true or is true then you got something to deal with whereas if you shied away from it, then you’re going to get more and more anxious about less and less. Your threshold to fear becomes lower and so there’s more and more that’s going to make you anxious. Until, I think that’s what you’re talking about is that if there’s an underlying problem, like a bug in your operating system, if that’s there, then anytime something in life comes up, it gets aggravated.
Cathy: Yeah, and the thing that kicked me over into actually doing this was the end of the relationship where I’ve been forever really, throughout that 20 year relationship, been frightened of losing the relationship.
And eventually I did lose the relationship.
And it was the biggest single opportunity of my life. I’ve absolutely no doubt about that now, I mean I look back and think well you know, I could’ve, I didn’t have to go through that really to get to where I’m at.
Well, I did, but you know, it doesn’t have to be that way for this I would say now, but if that’s what triggered it but interestingly enough, what I’m doing now is always very strong in me.
I used to feel it all the time I realize now, but the thought that kept going through my head through the whole of my life is when something horrible happen to me, there was a voice always in me that said “accept it, Cathy”, “accept it, Cathy”, and I didn’t listen to that voice because my ego voice would rail against it, and it’s until now and I have this time that I realize that it’s a true voice.
That was a real voice and it was there all the time in my life, but now, you know, I understand it much better now but, yeah, and it’s the time and therefore, I feel it’s the time that gives me the energy if you like, certainly at the moment that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always like that, but the time gives me the energy at the moment.
Rob: Right, I’m interested because whenever someone says it takes time, I always think, well, time is relative to you, and, so time is a concept that we have created and we make up. So, what I’m to trying to get at is, it’s not necessarily time, but an actual process that something has to happen, and so, would you say that it’s getting enough distance from it? Or?
Cathy: No, no, yeah, this is interesting. No it’s just about distance. It’s what happens within that time period, if you like. I think this is the interesting part, because what you and I have talked about is in theory, that distance that time period could be reduced to zero over every single thing that happens in life. And that is what I was trying to explain at the beginning. That all those things that happened to me now over many, many things.
It’s not, I think it’s two things that I would like to say, it’s not a linear process, not, linear isn’t the right word, there are many, many of these things I think in people’s lives and certainly in my life, and some of the smaller, more easy ones have pretty much gone. Some of the big ones keep coming to my mind. I make progress but I struggle to, you know, I still get drawn into them.
So the time thing many spiritual teachers, split things into clock time, if you like. You know, if you going to learn to play football, it’s going to take time, because you just physically are going to need that. You know, to learn the skills.
But the psychological stuff in life which is what we’re talking about here, in theory, time is of no help, in one sense, whatsoever. Because if you just made a decision that you’re not going to react about you could make that instantly, and stay there. Some people do that, most human beings don’t. And that’s what seems to be interesting process which does take time.
I’ve certainly seen that myself. I mean, I’ve been doing this, and I’ve been working whatever the term we should use is, you know, I spent a lot of time doing it. I love the process so much and I can see the benefits of those, but you know, there’s certain areas that I’ve still got much progress to make, I can see that, because I’ve seen it in my life and I welcome those negative times now, because that’s what tells me I need to make more progress
Rob: Okay, so what you say is it’s a change in the foundations of your perspective, in the way you see things, that deeper changes have to sort all of themselves before you have the foundation that you’re able to make that big decision, or make that step or leap of faith.
Cathy: I think, before this happened, I had sort of had inklings of it, I just didn’t believe that it worked. I’m not sure if I have the right term really, I just, I think know that it works. I know it works now, it’s more than think, I absolutely know it works now.
So, if something creates a negative emotion in me, I know that if I look at it, if I can get myself into that place with that energy and look it clearly without the perspex and I know that it can go away.
I just, I know that so, that’s the difference really, before I had inklings of it. Now I absolutely know it to be true, I know it to be true. It’s not, that’s what I really like about spirituality and whatever we would call this process is that it’s not about, you don’t have to believe in anything, you know it because you’ve seen the evidence of it for yourself in your own life, and that’s what gives you that confidence, you just want to do it because it’s just so much more of a beautiful way to live
Rob: Right so what you’re talking about is really, you had this inner wisdom, which was clouded by, what you called the ego.
Cathy: Yeah, and I think what happens in our world, certainly our western culture because it strengthens, in common terms, I’ve been one of the few that has been very successful because I’ve acquiesced to those structures. I did well in school, I did well in university and I thought I was doing really well in life, that was the material things, if you like, the horizontal plane. But in the vertical plane as I would call it now, it pulled at me but I don’t have time for it.
So that’s been the biggest change, so I have a whole different part in my life now which I’m much more strongly packed into and there for the things on the surface don’t bother me as much. They can still bother me, but I can put them into a different perspective
Rob: Right, where you talked about horizontal to vertical. In horizontal terms what you say is, horizontally how where you able to deal with everyday life, and how successful you can be in your everyday life, like, you know, work, and school and whatever.
Cathy: Yeah, just physical things you do in life yes, those things
Rob: And the vertical is like your private emotional, psychological response to those. How well you’re doing emotionally, spiritually, psychologically.
Cathy: Yes, so your way of being, I would probably call it now. And put the two very much inter-related, so what I know is when I am firmly rooted in that vertical thing, I deal with the horizontal things in a very easy way. You know, it’s relatively easy. When I lose that, I get drawn into something or might go to the horizontal side of things I have a horrible time.
And you know, that does happen to me periodically, still now. But it never happens to me for very long now, because when I’m in that place I recognize it and I know I need to do something.
So I just create space and give myself time, I suppose what I know now, is if spend time and energy, then I can get back to where I want to be again. And as I go on that happens, that horrible place happens less frequently and less severely than it has ever in my life before.
Rob: Right, so, if I just see if I’m understanding you right. You’ve always had this inner wisdom, which told you to do what you now doing. But you never really trusted it, you trusted more in what the horizontal, the you’ve been taught and what you observed in the physical world
Rob: And so, the more that you have been open and tested out this inner wisdom, the more that you trust, the more able you are and more confident you are when you’re using it, in more and more situations
Cathy: Yeah, yeah, I know it works, it’s a knowing, it’s a very, it’s an increasingly strong knowing.
Rob: Right, and so, in terms of your everyday life, the horizontal life, in vertical terms you have a much better time, the more that you’ve developed this trust, but and when you get something trigger you and you stay in the horizontal, you have a worse time, but how about if you’re in the vertical… do you make worse decisions on the horizontal level?
Cathy: Oh not much better decisions that’s the whole point, much better .
Rob: In terms of, obviously the impact they have on you and your emotional wellbeing, but in what other ways are way better?
Cathy: Better in, you know, in a whole way, better for other people around me, better for the world. Yeah, just in every single way, better decisions because when I stay in that vertical I’m able to see the whole situation.
If I don’t stay in it, I see it from my perspective and I make decisions which on the surface of things might be seeming to be good for me, but they’re not. They don’t make you feel so good. I realize it so strongly now, so it’s not letting go but it’s, when you’re in the vertical, out of the ego, as many people would call it so you’re not making decisions just for you, you’re making decisions for the whole world, if you like, and you see yourself as a part of the whole world. The one thing that really is and then you just make that decisions
Rob: Right, and because they’re better all-around they’re better for the people, they’re better for the world in general, it means they tend to be accepted when people can see it and in the long term, though people might not see initially, they work out better. And in terms of talking about people in a company buying into it, and so people get behind it and you have the power of everyone else rather than just trying to force through your own decision that you believe in but other people are antagonized by or oppose.
Cathy: Yeah, and you know, their better, so you feel good in yourself. I think we know this very clearly that we never feel good when we do things for our own benefits over other people. We never feel good over that.
It’s an in-built thing that we have, which is so magical and if we listen to that, it tells us what to do, it actually tells us what to do which comes back to this contemplation thing. To contemplate the answers “come” as to what is the best thing to do in every circumstance. Yes, it’s that, we all have that and it’s that’s tapping into it and listening to it more clearly. That’s the vertical I’m talking about.
Rob: Yeah, where people, you say, I have a, I thought there’s something in me that rebels when someone says, everyone should do this or that. One thing that a lot of people say, is that everybody should meditate.
I read once years ago that you should lock yourself away without any distractions for three days and you’ll be amazed that all the things come up and you have a crisis of personality. And so I did this, and I was there for 3 days and there was nothing. I didn’t have a crisis or whatever. I think like that people are all different.
It grates when people say everyone should do this, because I don’t think there are grand solutions, you know, that everyone can do. But I think, you know I think there’s something in meditation, but what, talking to you has brought more clearly is, what is the value of the meditation. You’ve spoken about how people, you know, can sort of, think that they’re meditating but they’re really have got grasp of something other than what actually means and you have gone through that process and you understand what meditation really is.
You know, so when we say when we talking about contemplate it’s really talking it’s really, contemplating in the way that is right for you. Because a lot of people will contemplate and, you know, the way you used to think about things and they go round and round and, you know that more frustrating, more stressed and more angry a bit than they were before
Cathy: Yeah, the process of contemplation, sometimes words confuse us. It’s like the word ‘God’ and the word ‘meditation’ I think have got connotations so, when we can redefine or just explain we mean by them when we talk about them. The word contemplation, for me, means observing what comes up observing what would naturally come up.
So the three days that you just described I think for most people on the planet at this time would be a complete disaster, because what most people would tend to do is the things would come up, and then they would do the circular spiral upwards and get into more and more and more of a frenzy, most people would that’s just the situation that humanity is at, at the moment.
So, what I mean by contemplation, it’s just making me realize it, is you feel that feeling that negative feeling, that’s because somebody’s done something to you but you don’t allow your mind to replay the story you just feel the feeling. It’s like, you know, not to replay that situation, it’s just that feeling.
And that’s what disappears because when the feeling disappears, that whole situation disappears with it.
I’m probably explaining that terribly well but, it’s to feel the feeling not to replay the story. Because otherwise if you get that for three days you’d come out of the room and you would have a crisis, but it wouldn’t be a positive one. Or I suppose it might be so negative that maybe you just tip over into something positive, I don’t know
Rob: Yeah I think the idea was, that everyone has their own stuff to deal with and if you give it the space and there’s no escape, you have to confront it
Cathy: Yes, yes, I can see that, yeah
Rob: Okay so it’s like, the only way to get through anxiety to go through it, and in this own way the only way to deal with emotions is to accept them and go through them
Rob: And so, when you spoke about that having the perspex glass, it shielded you from them and you were afraid to go through them
Cathy: Yeah, absolutely
Rob: And because you never went through them you were stuck and you couldn’t get to the other side
Cathy: Yeah, when I’ve actually confronted those now, you know, with another person, which I did with somebody close to me about a year ago, that was one of the hardest things I ever did but I did it!
And it made me cry, I don’t quite understand, but there was some massive release at that time, that I actually had the courage to confront that emotion and explain that emotion, to the person that I’ve felt at the time probably was creating it. I realize now it was me creating it, but it was a massive emotional release and, I can honestly say I’ve never been there, you know, I’ve never been there since in that way, because I’ve always said it couldn’t happen now, because I know, you know, just, it can’t happen now, I can’t explain it more than that
Rob: Right, so there’s some process that you’ve been through that’s so irreversible that you, it’s like a vaccination you’re immune to that particular thing there, was that you saying?
Cathy: Yes, but I think, yes maybe it is lack of action so I got some immunity but only to that one and very specific situation. What I don’t know! But I guess actually it’s a good analogy, so sometimes because you’ve been into one situation, it gives you some protection for similar situation. It’s not quite the same not giving you 100% protection but it gives you some protection.
I think it’s a bit like that I say more protection, if you if you like, but I really don’t want to couch it as protection. It’s much bigger and it’s much more powerful than protection it just is, it just is
Rob: it’s more about being able, in a sense I think, but it’s more in a sense of that you’re able to meet the amount of the bacteria or whatever without being impacted by them.
Rob: So you could encounter and confront things without being, perhaps it’s like a psychological growth and because of that you transcend a situation. It’s like when we were at school, we get really sucked into, you’ve got to do this and that. We have gone through that process and if we were back in that situation as adults, we wouldn’t be as susceptible to peer pressure.
In a sense, having gone through that psychological growth, when you’re in that situation you’re not as constrained by the norms in the group kind of thinking
Cathy: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, yeah
Rob: Okay, so a lot of it is, I would say as being open to being vulnerable it is accepting that you feel fear, that you’re afraid of this that you are vulnerable, and yet, you accept that at even with that vulnerability you so, are open to, you know, you’re open yourself to the possibility of being hurt
Cathy: This is the counter-intuitive bit. You think you are doing that, but actually in reality you just create the situation where you can’t be hurt there because in the very act of open yourself to the vulnerability, I would say you make yourself stronger.
That very act itself, makes you stronger. The difficulty is in getting to the point where you can actually do that. As soon as I started to use those words I think that’s what is about, it is a massive emotional release and I wrote to you about it that it was an emotional release, but I think it was, it’s getting to that point that’s the difficulty..
Cathy: And I’ve had many people to do that to me recently and I see that same emotion in them. They cry, as they’re saying the words, but the job has been done. They have done it.
Rob: Right, so would you say the most difficult part of the process is in getting up the courage to open yourself up and be vulnerable?
Cathy: Yeah, yeah. It says It’s the preamble to doing it. And that’s why I think that contemplation, I think is the best word for me for it, is the most powerful tool probably that we have. Contemplation could be many things. That doesn’t mean that you have to go and sit like a Buddhist Monk for ages. This girl opened up to me about something she felt I had done 12 years ago.
We spent three days at the Krishnamurti Centre. We just walked and we, just spent quiet time and she contemplated it. And at the end of that three days she said to me “I need to tell you something and I need to tell you while I’m here because I’m frightened I’ll lose the courage to tell you, if we go away’. It was like the place gave her some sort of courage”.
And we sat and talked for hours and she cried and, you know, the relief that she’s expressed since then was immense. And I understand that because I’ve done it myself.
Rob: Right, that’s really interesting, so when you, so once you, got to that stage, what about from there? How would you say the process, how did you steer it?
Going back to when you first did this seriously, would you say the process is from there?
Cathy: Well, I think it’s, for me it’d be two parts, one is that, you still need to contemplate it I think. It’s easier but you still need to contemplate it otherwise you can go backwards if you’re not careful I would say.
When I say I would, I’m confident I’ll never go back, it’s only because I’m on a constant journey. I will never, I don’t feel I’ll ever in my life get sucked into the horizontal again, I’ll always stay rooted in the vertical.
That would be my intention. Okay, if I come out of it all now I will recognize it, and I know where I could go back to whereas before I couldn’t. I could recognize coming out of the vertical and I know where to go back to, whereas before I didn’t know where to go to and that’s what I see in most people.
But what I do know is once you deal with one thing, for most of us there is something else. Either you know you’re working on or something else.
The awful thing is when sometimes come up out of the blue. You don’t know until it happens how you will deal with it. I know these things in my life that caused me pain but you know, I will never be out of it enough to say I absolutely know. I’m fairly confident, but I can’t say I absolutely know
Rob: Yeah, okay, and, so, once you had that emotional release, then, was it still scary? Was it still emotionally draining, so what was the emotional impact?
Cathy: Just a feeling of peace, much more peace, but very tired. I think for me, when I go through one of those it makes me really tired.
See, I might almost say now, to me when we sleep, we do connect, I feel the peace when we connect, you know, we connect into this vertical, and I, you know, I firmly believe we do that when we sleep. The better the quality of sleep we have, the better that we connect. It recharges us. I think that’s why we sleep. I think that’s the whole process of sleeping
Rob: So not just physical regeneration, but psychological.
Cathy: Yeah, yeah arguably, we don’t need the physical I think people still do this argument, we don’t need the physical, but we, it’s something psychologically that goes on
Rob: Yeah, and, have you noticed, you know you talked about changing in your vertical, do you still need as much sleep? Has it changed the nature of your sleep?
Cathy: That’s an interesting question, I haven’t thought about it really. I welcome sleep, but I don’t need, if anything slightly less, yeah, I don’t feel I need any more.
If anything else I’d sleep less, but the quality of my sleep is generally very good
Rob: Okay, and just, before you went through this process did you try any other things?
People generally, when they first have a problem that they still can’t go on with, without dealing with it. The first thing they usually do they look for, you know, this, subliminal tapes, you know this kind of technique things, that, promise to solve the problem without any work.
Did you try anything like that?
Cathy: I, you know, I did all sorts of things, I trawled the net first because I didn’t really want to go out very much when it first happened. So, I spent a lot of time trawling the net which is where I came across your book, which was very helpful in early stages. Particularly the stories as I’ve said to you many, many times.
Then I started wanting to interact with other people so I’ve studied Buddhism. Actually just being on one thing, you know, takes you to another and I just gradually, I’ve listened to a lot of spiritual teachers. Read a lot of spiritual teachers, made an effort to go and see them. By teachers I don’t just mean well known teachers I mean people, people that I know that I feel are in a good place.
Being around those people I think is actually helpful and that energy they emit or whatever you want to call it, helps. In my mind, there’s no doubt about that so it helps to be around those people, that helps my evolution and to talk to those people.
I don’t see you very often but talking over the phone, and talking to people who are in that place. When I was in the early stages of it, really interestingly, people that were in a negative place, it was like when I was stood opposite them, I could feel the energy draining from me into them.
I don’t get that now, or very, very rarely now, and if I do it’s not very strong. So it was like they were depleting me. The way I would describe that now is that, we all have boundless energy because we all link into this vertical, or one thing, or whatever you want to call it. So good energy comes through us so it’s not going to live there, but it feels limiting for many of us because, yeah, because we block it from coming in.
I suppose that’s what I would say, when you get that place when you don’t block it from coming in, you can do so much more in your life. The only way I can explain it, and I think this is sometimes when people try to explain these things I think gets into myths and legends. But anyway, the way I can explain it is, if I get sucked into what I would call the horizontal bit of life, it switches off that connection to the vertical.
If I’m connected to the vertical, the vertical for me is connection with God or whatever people want to call it and it’s an unlimited amount of energy, and therefore if I’m connected into that I can deal with any horizontal situation because the flow of energy is just continuous.
It’s just when I get sucked into it, it switches it off basically. So, then I have a limited amount of energy. It gets depleted and I feel tired and I feel like I can’t do anymore. So, I’m getting into a situation where I’ve had it before in the past where I’ve had to stop the conversation. Just my brain wouldn’t just allow me to continue and I’ve literally had to go to bed, but so far that doesn’t happen to me now.
Rob: Yeah, yeah so it’s, that still brings more like the idea of being in the world but off the world.
Cathy: Yeah, exactly, it is this thing, yeah, exactly, yeah, that will be the ultimate exactly.
Rob: Okay, and, as you spoke before about, I think the ultimately, the emotionality that we have like how strong our emotion are, that people get overwhelmed by their emotions and they can’t control that behavior because their emotions overpower, you know, like what they consciously want to do. Do you find that’s changed?
Cathy: Oh, yeah, gosh yah, absolutely, yeah I would say so far the same thing we’ve been discussing but that would very rarely if ever happen to me now, yeah.
Rob: Was that part of the shield that when you talked about in the perspex shield? Was it the strength of the emotions that thrown into you or was it what might happen?
Cathy: What, might happen, oh no I felt at the time when I was doing that stuff in the past, you know, that action was completely justified in response to whatever has happened. And because, and the fear in me was that something else was going to happen. It was negative and I thought that reaction would, you know, stop that really bad thing from happening, so that’s where I was at so yeah.
Rob: Right, and they felt that like they were defending you.
Cathy: Yes, so yeah, protecting me, yeah, protecting me, yeah.
Rob: Which is kind of how I look, you know, there’s always wars, and every country has an Office of Defense army, but nobody has the attack army. Yet, if everyone only defended themselves how could you have a war?
And I think that people do the same thing that they attack in order to defend themselves, and so, you know when you can get rid of those defenses structures then you can actually deal with things without actually having to go to war, and you could you know, because that’s so destructive and so wasteful you could deal with things more productively and more effectively.
Cathy: Yeah, yeah and I was just thinking, you know when I first used to talk to you, you know, we used to do telephone conversations. Not quite like this, but you know about my problems. I used to be really exhausted after three quarters of an hour.
I’ve noticed probably in the recent conversations we talked for much, much longer, we talk this conversation is done, if you like, I don’t feel I have to cut the conversation because I‘m emotionally exhausted. So it’s not that it doesn’t stretch me, I don’t mean that, it’s just I think it’s because like I said I’ve got a flow of energy coming through me so, I’m fine I can go for much longer.
Rob: Yeah, I mean, because people often say, you know, I can do it anymore or I’m really tired, and for me when I talk about this type of, then when I, this is when I feel more reliable and I come away with more energy than when I got started with.
Cathy: Yeah, but using the analogy, I just used, that would be for me because, actually this what the conversation opens you up more to that flow of energy, so that’s when you open yourself up to the flow of energy.
Rob: So, the way I see it is that, that emotions are driven by our fears which is bound to basic core fear, so when you look back, what do you think were your core fears, that caused that emotional pain? And how do you feel they have changed?
Cathy: My core fear is one would be certainly abandonment rejection, that was one of my core fears abandonment and rejection, and the other one is something about not being hurt, fear of not being listened to, yeah that somebody is not hearing my desires, my needs. Because I can’t make myself hurt, something is not going to happen that I need to happen or something like that.
Rob: So, helpless
Cathy: Yeah, yeah, 80% of it helpless, yeah, yeah
Rob: And, would you say they have changed?
Cathy: Yeah, yeah, they’re my two, as I said earlier, I have two biggies, they’re my two biggies and they still are with me, but much less strong and it doesn’t take over these days into where I would call out and suffer in which it did do earlier on in my life.
And one of the interesting things I’ve realized is it, about the rejection thing, the abandonment thing, I was always frightened of losing this relationship but the time it happened and I did lose it. But what I realized, many people in my situation would go into another relationship and I possibly might have once since then, because I realize now the fear was still there.
Even if the person wants to be with you that, it doesn’t take that fear away because that fear is your fear. It can be a positive and a negative thing I suppose. I don’t subscribe to duality in the way I might have. What’s the best expression? I read something recently, and it was a teaching and it said something like, most of the words are these but, ‘if you can treat a compliment and an insult exactly the same, then you’re getting somewhere basically’.
So it says that compliments are not good either, it’s not that you don’t want those. It’s not it’s a bad thing to do, if you like, but if your reaction to a compliment is strong, it’s just as dangerous, if you like, in terms of your wellbeing as your reaction to an insult. And that took me a long while to realize that but I totally realize it now.
Rob: It’s like the Rudyard Kipling poem If.
Cathy: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Rob: Okay. And just so, I think we’ve covered quite well the journey that you had, and where you, because I know now that you’re keen to share what you’ve learned and to help other people who haven’t started on that journey yet.
So what would you say to someone who’s listening and heard your story, and was back in the place where you started somewhere or similar?
Cathy: To me, I think this process that you’re asking for us to go through would be, you know, if I could’ve listened to somebody talking about it, 4-5 years ago, I think it might’ve got me to this pace where I really believed, I think that thing it starts off as a belief. If you see a human being, like a recovered alcoholic for instance, I think, it’s very powerful for alcoholics. Like people that talk to me that’ve been through an awful emotional problem of a relationship or something and come through it stronger, happier, look great, all those thngs they gave me strength at that time.
If we can talk, I think other human beings that have transcended it are very powerful. So that’s what I look for, and maybe part of this process that we’re doing now, is to listen to other people’s stories that have really gone through it and come out, I would say not out the other side.
All you are is ever on a journey, but once you’re on that journey, the benefits of it are so great, you never want to come off it really, you might out go astray every once in a while, but you really never want to come off it because it’s so, it’s just a wonderful place to be.
Rob: Okay, I think we’ve covered, that’s been interesting to me because I’ve seen things in a slightly different way, you know, from looking from your eyes. Because you obviously got different perspective on life. Obviously the way everyone experiences it is different. So it has been interesting to hear because it helps clarify in my mind, and hopefully to other people as well.
Cathy: Yes, Krishnamurti said this, Truth is a pathless land. I think that’s so powerful, basically it’s your path, see, other people can help you but it’s your path and it has to be your path, nobody can do this for you, you have to do it for yourself. And that’s the thing about the energy and I think sometimes it does take time I would think, that’s the big things to me, it’s taking me several years to be able to amass that energy somehow.
Cathy: But I absolutely believe that we could, what I really want to do in the world I want to teach the people I think, taking to children at an early age before they get a dense perspex sheet, is probably one of the most powerful things that we can do.
Although, I have to say reading Marshall Rosenberg, he’s convinced me listening to some of his, you know, his testimonials, if you like, he talked to people in conflict like the Jews and the Arabs. He said within hours and sometimes days, you can break down these barriers. He has done it with people in relationships, where a couple been talking about something for 35 years and within a few hours, he’s helped bringing them together.
I totally believe that it is possible, I know that it’s possible, I suppose it’s not just a belief. I can see that that could happen and it’s just a different way of interacting, than the one we’re taught to do certainly in the western world at this time.
The other thing I’ve done in my life in last few years is I’ve made a conscious effort to go to Buddhist countries, was just a completely different culture. I see young men expressing themselves in a way that our young men here would find embarrassing, they just wouldn’t do it, they wouldn’t say those things in that quite same way, or many of them would find it harder to do that.
It’s a cultural thing, so I think we can change our cultural relationship with the way we are. So that we don’t draw kids into that whole thing. It’s stronger than when I was at school, to succeed and be good at math or English is the Holy Grail.
It’s absolutely not. It doesn’t mean you’re not good at English or math but the other stuff is so much more important and gives you a massive tool for life.
Rob: Well, actually I’ve been working in schools, what I’m seeing is that in working with a lot of kids with a lot of social, emotional and behavioral problems. The biggest barrier to learning is the fact that they are so bothered by other things, so out of control emotionally, and so behaviorally that they are able or capable to learn the maths or the English. Because they have so many issues that they’re so focused on.
I think it’s interesting what you talk about people could change very quickly, what you said about Krishnamurti bringing tremendous energy to focus on just this issue. You’re dealing with things, I think you have to deal, you know, there’s a sequence and you find what the constraint is that is stopping you from dealing with it, and when you can just focus on that, solely with all your attention that I think that you can, when you take away that constraint you then, there will be out of constraints.
But when you deal with them one after another, you then can deal with the whole change, which then completely changes everything.
So I can agree it also takes intensive bandwidth that, you know, if you’re able to focus all your attention on whatever problem there is, you’re able to have a lot more success in dealing with that. But that means that you have to have control of your attention which mean that you got to confront the basic core fears today so, that you illustrated that.
Cathy: Yeah, but like you said, the big question is how do we get to the point where we can focus our attention with energy.
How do we get to that point?
What is the process by which we get to that point?
Because once we’re at that point we do confront, you know, like what is the process by which we get to that point is the big question
Rob: Well, I think the issue is that, what stops you from having the attention is fear, you know, and it’s fear that binds you.
So if you can free up your attention and to free up your attention means that you have to look at what’s going to hold your attention, what is the fear that’s underneath that. And then, you go through in this process that you called contemplation which is a different way of thinking about it which isn’t thinking about the fear of what might happen. But it’s about thinking about what actually is happening, was actually true in this instance, how do we, what’s the bigger picture, beyond just, just my personal self-interest and what’s the best way forward for everyone.
And if you can’t do that then you need to be looking at, what is I’m afraid it’s going to happen. Then, you have to be willing to accept that. The fear that you’re confronting and then be willing to confront that fear, to feel the fear.
Once you’ve dealt with the fear then you’re into the actual situation, the situation even if it is true or isn’t true. And the fear isn’t true usually. And even where it is true, then you’ve at least got something tangible to deal with. And so the fear is gone and you’ve moved on, and most this of the fear wasn’t true, was groundless.
And so, then you have more of your attention free, and I think you can move onto the next thing, and then the next thing. The differences that you’ve made and the changes that you’ve made is only been possible because you’ve been very open. You’ve never shied away from what frightened you. I know when we first talked you didn’t shy away from anything. What I find which led me to talk about truth seeking, was that I found that the people I couldn’t have any success or I couldn’t help them in any way. Or in a very limited way was because they had some belief that they just wouldn’t give up.
And although everything around them pointed in not being true and not being possible, they held so steadfastly to that that they weren’t open to the truth.
I think that they key to your success has been, that you’ve always been open to whatever the truth was, you didn’t have the attachment to, I mean, obviously you did have attachment but you were willing to let them go in such of a truthful or when the truth, so, led to go with the evidence in life and your experiences showed to you.
Cathy: Yeah, I think that decision often come through such a horrible time, that you can say that your normal way of doing things is not going to work. And is never going to work. So, it tips you over into doing something different.
The interest for me now is in another way to get people to that place, without having to go through that horrible experience. That is what I’m interested in at the moment. I do think the process of non-violent communication, maybe, can help people. There are examples where they have talked to kids in schools and they seem to take them through a process where they can get rid of what you just described.
That surface emotion that blocks everything else and they can’t even begin to focus on English or something like that. I just wanted two bits in that book that I’d be interested to know what you think about them. I’ll try to scan them and send them to you
Rob: Okay good
Cathy: Yeah, good. I’m just looking through my notes and the end of the thing I’ve written here which I think it’s quite interesting is, when you get to this place you don’t carry things with you.
I think that’s a big release in life, so even though something horrible happens, instead of that clouding your whole weekend. It doesn’t. You’re still going to see your mom and you enjoy being with your mom. You don’t have this thing constantly coming into your head, that you don’t have that.
Rob: Not paralyzed by fear
Cathy: Yeah, yeah, and that’s just magic, because that’s what I’m saying about the quality of your life, it just improves so much, that you’re not carrying this heavy burden all the time. You can deal with it in the moment and then you know you can’t do any more that time, and you can, what people call compartmentalize. I wouldn’t say it like that now but what I’m saying, here leave it where it is and you go and enjoy being with your mom, and then you come back to it. But you don’t take it to your mom with you. And that’s just fabulous release in life, yeah
Rob: So it’s like having the freedom of, being able to direct your attention, you’re not bound to it
Cathy: Yeah, yeah, but there’s an old Buddhist teaching. It’s very funny, that says, it would be like somebody that goes to work and has such a horrible time with the boss so they go home early to get away from him. Because he’s such a horrible man and I don’t want to deal with him anymore. What they realize is riding home, he’s there in the car with them. When they get home and decide they’re going to have a gin and tonic and he’s there with them. Then they have a nice bath he still, you know, he’s in the bathroom with them. Eating a dinner, he’s eating his dinner, with them. He’s still there basically, it’s saying moving yourself physically doesn’t mean you’ve moved yourself psychologically
Rob: Yeah, there’s another story I have heard where there’s some monks walking. They have taken a vow of chastity etc. And they walk in, and they come to a river where they got to walk across. There’s a woman who’s stuck, and, you know, this very attractive woman and she’s stuck. So what do they do?
The first one remembers his vows and is adamant he won’t look at her or touch her in anyway and so he walks past. The other one picks her up and carries her across and puts her down. Then they’re going on and this other one’s still talking about how he touched this woman an hour later. So the second monk says, I put the woman down at the river… you are still carrying it about now.
Cathy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard verse of that but it was brilliant, yeah. Yeah, I put it down two hours ago or whatever, and you still carrying it, it’s great.
Rob: Thanks Cathy, that was really interesting to talk through your experiences and insights and if people can learn from your lessons I think it can save them lots of unnecessary pain.
Cathy: Yeah what it was interesting to do. When you talk about something, you clarify your thinking further.
Rob: Yeah, we have spoken lots of times, but there’s new things that has come up for me, you know, in this process today.
Cathy: Yeah, and I what I think, you know, one of the big things is like we said at the end is, all we can do for each other, is facilitate each other finding our own path, but every path is different, every path is different, there’s no doubt about that.
Rob: Raise awareness to make it easier for others.