What is Anxiety?

Listen to the podcast below with Dicken Bettinger as he tackles the question of “What is anxiety and how can I be free of it?”

Show notes:

I’m thrilled to be talking to Dicken Bettinger about what causes anxiety.  (It’s not what you may think it is.)

Dicken is one of the few people who was taught directly by Sydney Banks, the man who discovered the principles. Dicken trained as a Psychologist, and for almost 30 years he has taught the three principles. He has helped countless people to free themselves from anxiety disorders.

Before understanding the principles, Dicken himself used to suffer from extreme anxiety attacks. He had a zillion techniques, and meditated for hours a day in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.

All in all, there really isn’t anyone on the planet that I can think of who is better placed to speak to about what causes anxiety and how to alleviate it!

So… what is anxiety?

The dictionary definition of anxiety is: “A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome”

Dicken explained that almost every one of us experiences moments of anxiety – that’s not a problem in itself, it’s just being human and is a function of how our thoughts create our feelings of anxiety.

Where does anxiety come from?

The problem, according to Dicken, is that we misunderstand where our anxiety comes from. Most of us believe that our anxiety symptoms come from outside events such as:

  • The situation we’re in
  • Our problems
  • The people we’re with

We become anxious because we are concerned that at any moment something can happen to trigger an anxiety attack. So in essence, we become anxious about our anxiety!

Dicken describes his past experience of anxiety like “I never knew when the world was going to make me feel bad.” and feeling like life was akin to walking in a field of landmines, waiting for one to blow up.

Many believe the label of being an anxious person – someone who is, whether by nature or nurture, is predisposed to anxiety – but Dicken has never seen this to be accurate for any of his clients.

Fundamentally, anxiety is simply an misunderstanding of why we feel anxiety – and then feeling anxious about the prospect of more anxiety.

Is it possible to be freed from anxiety?

Dicken talks about us not needing to work hard to look for freedom from anxiety when we see we already have what we’re seeking. Dicken described these steps that are helpful to understand this:

Step 1. Recognise that 100% of your experience of anxiety and fear is created by thought. 

All of our feelings are being created by our thoughts in the moment.

This is in direct contrast to what we’re taught – e.g. that stressors cause stress. It’s also contrary to how things look – if you’re in a room and feeling good but someone walks in the room and you feel anxious, it’s a very convincing illusion that your anxiety is being caused by the other person.

When we see that our experience of anxiety is coming from thought, it’s the beginning of us letting go of the misunderstanding of what anxiety is and what’s creating the anxiousness within us.

Step. 2 Seeing that a new thought will free you from the anxiety created by the current thought.

When we wake up to the nature of thought, we’re open to a new thought flowing through – and thereby creating a completely different feeling.

This is the opposite to to what we tend to do – which is to focus MORE on the anxious thought that has created the anxious feeling. We try to identify it, fix it and change it – all the more we continue to think about – and therefore feel – more anxiety.

When we wake up to what’s really happening we focus more on our wellbeing than our anxious thoughts.

Step. 3 Understanding that we all have potential for infinite wisdom and wellbeing.

We’re not limited to the boundaries of our physical brains, we all have a connection to infinite potential – more love, more connection, more clarity, more creativity, more peace – when we look toward the non-conceptual space that’s before our personal thinking.

If you have any questions for Dicken about what anxiety is and isn’t, anxiety disorders in general, or anything else, please leave a comment below.

Resources and links we spoke about

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Love, Lian xo

Transcript of our conversation about anxiety

Lian: I am here today with the delightful Dicken Bettinger. Dicken is one of the original cast. As in he is one of the few people who has taught directly by Sydney Banks, the man who discovered the principles. Dicken trained as a psychologist and for the last almost 30 years you don’t look old enough Dicken. Is that right?

Dicken: I became a psychologist back in 1976.

Lian: Wow!

Dicken: However long ago that is Lian.

Lian: Don’t ask me. I am not the person to ask! 😀 So it’s nearly 30 years you have been teaching the principles. I am really looking forward to getting your thoughts on the subject of anxiety: what it is, what causes it and is it possible for you to be free from it.

I listen to something you did with Steve Light on anxiety before. What really stuck out for me is something you talked about meditating for hours each day to escape from those feelings of anxiety. So I really looking forward to kind of hearing your thoughts on that journey, what life used to look like, what it is now and what are the things you discovered over the years. So hello and welcome to the show Dicken!

Dicken: It is great to be here. Can’t wait.

Lian: So I remember when I heard you say that about all those hours you spend meditating. When I heard that I thought wow, that’s dedicated. I wouldn’t say that I suffered from extreme anxiety before but like most people I have things that I used to get anxious over, fears that used to hold me back , areas in my life that used to cause me anxiety. I remember when I heard you talk about that and I was like wow… that’s a whole other level that I hadn’t experienced! What did life feel like for you back then?

Dicken: When I didn’t feel good I looked for something I could do that would help me feel better. So what it looked like back then is I didn’t feel good and then I’d run away and start looking for something I could do that would help me feel better. And I had a very long list of things that I could do that would help me feel better. I was always working and trying to improve my experience. It was a lot of work. I mean I woke up at 4 in the morning and started working. I had couple of hours in meditation and then I had my dreams that I had recorded during the night and then I had to work on those dreams. I had to begin to capture the content of my thinking so I could work on reframing my thinking and improving my thinking. I had affirmation journals and I had structure journals and unstructured journals. Plus I had all the books I had to read.

There was no end to the books in psychology and spirituality that I was reading at any particular time. I had several books going at once usually. I lived in the world of self-improvement. That was my world. If you don’t feel good you have to work to feel better.

Lian: Did it improve you? Did you feel any better?

Dicken: Yes I did. That was what was so seductive about self-improvement. It didn’t fundamentally change the fact that I kept feeling so bad and then had to work had to feel better which would help. If I meditated for 2 hours I could get into a very quiet, beautiful state of mind. It didn’t address on a fundamental level the need that I had to search in the first place.

Lian: Funny I was talking to Jack Pransky last week and he used the word ‘seductive’ in relation to thoughts as well. I hadn’t seen it as clearly as self-help addiction in itself is seductive.

Dicken: It was what people would call a positive addiction. It was like I didn’t feel good and rather than running for a drink or drugs I would run for some technique that if I worked hard enough on at some point I will start to feel better. Then that became my seduction. When I feel bad the world makes me feel bad but I got tricks up my sleeve. I am ready for you, go ahead! I have a list a mile long of things I can do that will help me feel better.

When I went to my very first training in 1986 about the principles, one of the very first things that I heard and I know you will appreciate it is that: we already have what we are looking for. It’s not a future event. So our wellbeing is not something you have to work on in order to achieve. You already have it. I had not heard it put so simply. At our core, always in every moment is wellbeing. So if that were true, it is not a matter of trying hard to get , transform your experience into something better and the something better is something out there as a promised future of something beautiful in the future. You already have it. So if that is true you sort of wake up to something you are doing that covers that up and you relax into yourself as you are in this moment.

The first time that happen was like immediately I started feeling better without need or use of any technique. So if we talk about anxiety that would be a good way of beginning to talk about not only what anxiety is but ultimately what helps people be relieved of the fear of their own anxieties so that it becomes less and less problematic and becomes less and less significant and less and less important and you begin to look into a different direction in your life. I thought maybe it would be fun to explore that a little bit.

Lian: That sounds perfect.

Dicken: That sounds good. We start with not only what anxiety is but why it becomes such a problem for people in my perspective then we can see if this makes sense to you. There is anxiety which is a feeling that is very normal that I have never met anybody that at times doesn’t feel. It’s just that you feel tense, a little unsettled, a little anxious, a little nervous. That is extremely normal. I don’t know anybody at times that doesn’t at times have those feelings. That in itself is not the problem because if that wasn’t problematic that feeling would be like any other feeling human beings have, it would just come and go naturally. No big deal.

When I went to my first training and the principles I begin to see is that every feeling is created from thought, no exception. So anxiety is a normal thought-created feeling that left alone comes and goes of its own devices. The question is why so many of us do, why so many people do and this was certainly true of me. That was my tendency. I didn’t really get angry, I didn’t really get caught up in sadness in a way that wasn’t helpful. I could get anxious, I would get worried. Why is it that so many people get caught up in anxiety in a way that it starts to feel like ‘I don’t like being this way, I don’t like the way I am, I don’t like being in anxiety for long periods of time’.

What I discovered, what made sense to me is that it makes a huge difference where you think your anxiety is coming from. So for a long time I thought I was anxious because of what was going on in my life, the situation I was in , the person I was with, what was happening around me, problems I had, issues I was dealing with. So there was always something in the world that was making me anxious. I don’t know and this may sound funny but I had the image, it was a little bit like I never knew when the world was going to make me feel bad. So I am walking through life waiting. The image I have is pretty graphic and it’s a little extreme perhaps but it’s a little bit like walking through this beautiful field and there are land mines out there. You never know when the world is going to blow up in your face and make you feel really anxious.

Lian: Then you get anxious about the anxiety.

Dicken: That’s the anxiety that creates the real problem for people. That’s how I define insecurity is you are walking through life unsure when at any moment life is going to make you feel bad.

Lian: There is no kind of off-duty moments because you are having to prepare yourself for the times that you are going to have those feelings. Makes complete sense.

Dicken: So if the world has the power to make me feel hurt psychologically it’s a pretty unsettling place. You know one time Albert Schweitzer said the biggest question for humanity is ‘Is the universe friendly?’ I get it now, I get it. That’s a cool question. Because you and I walk through our day and we are expecting that the world has the power to make us feel the way we feel. If that’s the case it’s a psychology that leaves us being victim of circumstance. That in itself creates a fundamental insecurity in human beings.

Lian: Some people its displayed through anxious thoughts. Whereas for others it might be angry thoughts but it all comes from that fundamental ‘I feel insecure about what the universe is going to do to me’.

Dicken: My teacher called all of thoughts of unhappiness when they are misunderstood he called all those person insecure. Like you said it can take any flavour. We are talking about anxiety, we could be talking about depression. We could be talking about anger that is continually directed toward the world for causing you the hurt that you feel. You feeling seem justified by circumstance if you think that room was so what you’re feeling seem justified by circumstance if you think that circumstance is responsible for what you’re feeling.

Lian: Can I just flip that to how as you were saying generally people believe that we are waiting for the outside world to create a feeling within us but we also are aware that the same thing doesn’t create the same feeling in our friends or someone else we know. So we do have a sense that it is not the same. Is that where the kind of diagnosis and the labels come in. Once you have decided ‘I am not just having an anxious feeling but I am an anxious person’. Does that make you think I am predisposed to having this way of reacting to that outside event?

Dicken: That’s a great way of saying it. It leaves us predisposed at thinking I am an anxious person or I have an anger management problem or I have a bad genetic draw so I am the kind of person that gets depressed so that in itself then begins to reinforce a greater sense of helplessness and it also begins to create a false sense of who you think you are. I am this and very innocently then psychology has looked at behaviours that people exhibit on a regular basis and begin to label them or diagnose them as that label. That reinforces that sense of ‘Well’ it’s an illness I have’ or ‘It’s my genetic predisposition, that’s who I am.’

Lian: In all your years of working with people, teaching people the principles… have you ever seen that to be true that someone is actually an anxious person or a depressed person?

Dicken: No.

Dicken: Personality theory evolves around the notion that people are pretty set in their ways. What I have learned is that people have the same habits and patterns of thinking based on this misunderstanding that the world makes you feel the way you do you are going to have the same kind of feeling and the same kinds of behaviour on a regular basis. So they begin to see maybe they really are a type A person. They really do have a borderline personality. They really do have anxiety disorder. They really are a depressed person. What is beautiful about learning about the creative capacity of life that we are all connected to is that the more you begin to realize that, the more you begin to realize the potential for our minds to generate and create men thinking. You get more interested in that than your own anxiety. I think there are three parts to this thing. First of all I think it is very helpful for people to know where their feelings are coming from. It begins to take the blame out of your experience. If you begin to see that every single feeling you have no exception is being created by the power of thought.

The world is no longer creating your experience. That alone relieves people of the fundamental existential anxiety about life being causal. Life causes me to feel bad, the traffic is driving me crazy and I can’t believe it or it’s my kids are driving me up the wall today or this person is really bumming me out, you are making me so angry. If for a moment we begin to see that every moment of feeling that we have, like anybody else is being created by the power of thought. Any feeling becomes more ordinary, more nimble, and more understandable. The biggest benefit is that you begin to feel less and less at the effect of the world. That’s huge, that alone. I can’t tell you how much that helps me to know that my kids didn’t make me angry. I can’t tell you what that did for my parent.

We were talking about there is three steps and the first one is beginning to recognize that experience is created from within the thought rather than done to us by the world. That’s huge for anybody. Anybody who begins to get a sense of that or I should say as we continue to get a deeper sense of that and because, like you said, there are moments and occasions when everybody knows that thought has something to do with their experience. People say I have to stop thinking about this I am going crazy here. Sometimes we have a sense of it but a lot of times we don’t.

Lian: That in itself is intriguing in that all of us had glimpses of that over our lives but not completely join the dots. You have studied this stuff for years and hadn’t realize that very simple misunderstanding. How do we miss that?

Dicken: We are taught that from an early age both by our friends and parents, and innocently. It has been a misunderstanding that has been around forever so everybody tells you and reinforces this notion that the world can make you feel what you feel. When studied psychology I was taught that stressors cause stress.

Lian: That’s a great point because stress is a brilliant example. We hear that divorce, moving house, death, all of those things create stress.

Dicken: I was taught stressors cause stress. I was taught that biology and genetics cause people to have the experiences that they are having, it’s causal. There is a long list but just on a simple practical level if you and I walked down the street, walked up to any human being and said “Hi, how are you doing? What are you feeling right now? And then no matter what they said you would just ask them; “What do you think that feeling is coming from?” You would begin to see how common this misunderstanding is because I have asked thousands, literally tens of thousands of people that question and I never had anyone say ‘Well, that’s obvious. It’s being created in this very moment via thought.’ They would say ‘I am feeling this way because..’ and then they would point towards something other than thought as being the reason why they are feeling what they are feeling. It’s all been very innocent. It has been a misunderstanding that has been around for hundreds of years, it’s been an understanding that people have had because it seems that way.

If I am sitting in a room feeling good, someone walks in and says something to me and I start feeling bad it sure seems like they did it. It’s a very convincing illusion isn’t it? It’s the same convincing illusion that for century’s people thought the sun rose in the east and set in the west. They thought the sun was moving and the earth was stationery. It is a very convincing illusion but it’s not scientific and it’s not true.

I sure believe that a good part of the time, my feelings were created by people or situations. Even though I had been practicing for 10 years as a psychologist.

Lian: Even when we did a recorded coaching session last week and the client in that session had definitely spent quite a time looking at various self-help techniques, looking inside for the answers. It was really interesting listening to her trying to identify where these feelings come from. Again I don’t mean to single her out because every one of us have laboured under the same misconception. It looked like it was everywhere but her thoughts. Even though she knew it was coming internally so she was describing it as ‘What I focus on’, ‘What I give energy to’. The coach in that session Rasmus Carlsson kept asking her ‘What is it really? What is going on for you? What are you doing in that moment’ and it was really interesting watching that, thinking that every one of us have got an inkling that we are creating within the inside, somehow we just still manage to miss that it’s as simple as what we are thinking in that moment.

I just saw that again how easy it is to miss something that is right in front of our nose.

Dicken: Very easy to miss. I know I did. I know it was new for me to think that 100% of my experience was created by the only thing that can create which is this creative energy. So until I begin to realize that there is a creative energy behind life that is responsible for creating everything that exist in life. Until seeing the principle nature of life it was hard for me to realize that there is a power of thought that has generating every moment of mental activity that immediately translates into feeling experience. It was hard for me to see the logic of that because I hadn’t been presented the logic of that. The whole field of psychology was pointing toward what had already been created. Cognitive content, feeling content, behavioural content. So whole fields of psychology where organized around focusing and dealing with content. So it’s focusing and dealing with the past. It wasn’t focusing on and talking about and pointing toward this formless creative energy that has the power to generate everything. That exists in the universe. Because that was not talked about I didn’t look in their direction so I didn’t think that we all are being lived but this power of thought that’s generating our experience.

For me inside was a feeling. Inside what was way before the creation of thought content or feeling? So it was a different definition of inside. I am looking at my experience and thinking I am looking inside.

Lian: I think that is a great point to make isn’t it? That’s a whole other misunderstanding right there isn’t it?

Dicken: Something else I thought of, like in my very first training they said it is very helpful to see that it isn’t life creating your feeling and experience. That it is coming genuinely from the power of thought. That in itself began to undermine this fundamental sense of existential insecurity I had that the world could hurt me at any moment, make me feel bad, other cars could make me feel bad. It’s a dangerous place out there. People could really say something to me and really hurt my feelings so I saw it as the external world have the power to create feelings. I had never question the logic of that or been exposed to a teaching that said any feeling doesn’t come from anything you can see anywhere in the world. It comes from what creates what we see in the world.

That was new. That was already pointing me in a different direction. Then they talked about there is an intelligence built into this formless energy. So it not only knows how to create but it knows how to operate things beautifully. In human beings I like to think of that intelligence as wisdom. It blew me away that someone would say to me you have the same connection to the intelligence behind the universe as any other human being. Nobody has a greater connection to that as you do.

There was something in me that resonated with the truth of that. That the same intelligence that knows how to create a flower and then turn it toward the sun and then take light and then turn it into energy, that knows how to do that , that knows how to grow a puppy from a little cell into this thing that runs around and loves and licks, and is just unbelievably cool. To think that we are connected to that same creative intelligence and then in human beings the evidence for that is that when we stop trying so hard for us to become better people and then just relax into this moment as it is, every human beings begin to at some point begin to feel better and think in a way that is helpful.

This is what we say wisdom. When we are in alignment with wisdom, when we are not caught up in trying to fix, improve, change, manipulate and we allow this deeper intelligence to live us naturally. It leads us in a direction of wellbeing and thriving. The second notion that I think helps people who are anxious is discovering that they are connected to wisdom. Which is in another way of seeing innate wellbeing. Now in a very simple, practical way when my head clears and quiets down every time it’s built into me to feel better and to think better. I didn’t know that. No one had told me that.

Lian: That’s again another one of those amazingly simple but powerful misunderstandings. It’s another one where when you see that clearly for yourself and felt it you can’t really believe that you thought it worked a different way. Like you said its one of those things that even when you hear that, I’ve had clients initially almost reject it ‘Wisdom? I haven’t got wisdom!’ but there is something there that feels true and as you say –  why could we work any differently to the rest of the world? Why would the rest of nature be so intelligent, so perfect but then I wouldn’t be? Why would that be logical?… but somehow we miss that.

Dicken: This is why I think the principle ultimately point to a dimension of life that we often don’t realize our connection to. Some people only call it a spiritual dimension of life. Most people don’t think I am a wave on the ocean of infinite energy, life energy. That we are all connected to this energy behind life. It wasn’t until I began to connect those dots, Lian, and see I am connected to the energy that creates all. That I can be connected to an intelligence that was greater than my little pea brain. That there is a deeper intelligence and there is evidence to that. So people will have to begin to see the evidence before they believe the effect of it. So in my very first training on the principles, I became aware of how much worrying I was doing and sort of woke up out of that dream for a moment an fell into the present moment which just means you are not caught up in or focused on or holding on to any of that thinking. In that moment of resting in the now I begin to feel better

I said ‘It can’t be that easy. Why isn’t this being shouted from the roof tops that you already have what you are looking for?’ and then when you wake up to the effect of thought it throws you wide open and in that openness wisdom breaks through and brings you feelings of wellbeing or new thinking. When we are anxious the cure for anxiety is new thinking. This is what I was thinking, my wife and I got talking about this last night and we were having so much fun. I was thinking we all experience anxiety but at some point you get a thought that creates different feeling of anxiety. Ultimately what cures us of anxiety is realizing we have the capacity for new thinking which is another way of saying we begin to realize your capacity for innate wellbeing.

Lian: That’s interesting because there is almost two cures. That the recognition, there is beneath thoughts, there lies this calm, wellbeing, happiness… however you describe it and then there is also the fact that a different thought will create a different feeling. You can’t lose really! :)

Dicken: One way or the other you are going to begin to have a different understanding. When I was anxious I didn’t realize it but where my attention went was towards what had already been created so I started focusing on my anxiety or even when I started hearing about thought I was trying to focus on the content of my thinking. I was focusing on the person or situation that I thought was creating my problem and I kept thinking about it . So when I was suffering my anxiety my attention always went to something that was already created that didn’t feel good.

Lian: Which makes no sense now that you say it like that but it is so human of us to think ‘The way to fix this is to focus on it, come up with solution, change it’.

Dicken: When I started learning the principles and my attention started going in a different direction. This was when I started to get excited about talking to you about and seeing what you thought about this because it felt like a fun way, a different way of talking about anxiety perhaps. Where does you attention go when you are feeling anxious? If you think the world causes you anxiety you are going to focus on whatever you think is causing you that and think about it and think about how to deal with it or fix it or change it or you will focus on yourself and you will be focused on your anxiety and how to fix it and change it and deal with it .

When I started to see that my feelings always were created from this power of thought, my intention started looking in the direction of the creative power of cause. My attention started going towards this energy that creates my experience. I really started to look inside, I started to sense in the moment something greater that I was connected to. I started to remember my innate wellbeing or my connection to this deeper intelligence so I started looking in that direction. Basically instead of being a student of anxiety I became a student of wellbeing. Way more fun!

To get curious about my capacity for new thinking and everybody’s capacity for new thinking. To get curious about this fact that when my personal thinking quiets down it is built into me to feel good. and to think in a way that is filled with common sense and understanding and get curious about that and want to learn more about that and look in the direction where new thoughts come from and look in the direction where deeper feelings of wellbeing arise and the more I looked in that direction the better I felt.

Lian: It’s fabulous that because it really is a case that we do focus on one of those two things usually isn’t it? ‘It’s out there that is creating the anxiety, how can I fix that and get rid of that?’ Or ‘How do I fix myself and get rid of this feeling in myself?’ Whilst you are doing that you are thinking of it and creating more feelings. Again that is so obvious but so easily missed!

Dicken: I missed it like anybody else. I fundamentally missed that. Maybe at times I knew that was true but a good part of the time if you asked me ‘Dicken, why are you anxious?’ I would say ‘I have this test coming up’ or ‘I am giving a talk’ or ‘I got to get together with somebody I don’t like and I feel really anxious because I have to meet with this person.’ I was attributing my anxiety to circumstance and then I even at one point I started thinking I have a bad gene. ‘At times my mom would get really anxious, my dad would get really anxious, my sister, my brother. I got dealt a bad deal.’ This notion that we all have perfect wellbeing inside is very different message than you have a propensity that’s going to mess you up and now you have to work with that. Now you have to learn how to better cope with the fact that you’ve got a bad hand dealt to you when you were born.

Lian: I often reflect on the fact that I feel so lucky to be able to give that message which is true to people. What an amazing truth to be able to share with people. There is nothing that beats that is there?

Dicken: I literally get emails every day from people who are grateful that they have heard me point them to something that is so simple and so obvious when you see it. We live in the world of thought. We can’t know anything independent of our own thinking. We are connected to the same energy that lives life and there is an intelligence built into that energy that we are connected to so that we all have the capacity built into us for wellbeing and wisdom and clarity and perspective and common sense.

In every moment, we already have that capacity. Even when I am feeling really bad just knowing that any moment a new thought could break though is helpful. Before I would feel this way and I am thinking I am doomed I am going to feel this way forever now. I am stuck. I didn’t have hope that my mind is an infinite potential for creativity. I always thought my mind was just my brain. That’s damaged so I am screwed.

Lian: Ironically something just occurred to me when you were talking just then about the way we have this potential for infinite wisdom. It is funny that we describe it has inside because it is kind of in a way more outside than inside if you know what I mean?!

Dicken: I love this because inside is just metaphor meaning beyond a physical. So beyond the physical is therefore specifically beyond our conceptual mind. When I fall beyond my deals of myself , my ideas of life, my personal thinking I go beyond ideas of I am not doing well, I shouldn’t be feeling this, life sucks, this person hurt me, I fall beyond all of those thoughts into what I call nonconceptual experience of life. Where you experience life as you did as a new born, directly. Not contaminated. As Syd Banks would say not contaminated. The now is this moment of awareness that when it is uncontaminated by our conceptual mind.

In those moments of noncontaminated experience when we wake up the thought, fall into the now, we are just no longer under the influence of the thoughts that says ‘I am no good, I am on level, I should do this , I shouldn’t do this, I am missing something, I am lacking something’. Take those thoughts out of any human being head and you will see their wellbeing in full force. There are present, they are alive, they are enjoying the moment. They are full of life, full of clarity, full of prospect. Syd Banks would teach that if you begin to get sensitive to and recognize this quiet space that is always there underneath, metaphorically or personal thinking, deep inside of us at all times. If you begin to look in that direction and become sensitive to that as your personal thinking begin to quiet down you will always find what you are looking for. What are you looking for? Would you like or clarity on thinks? Would you like more understanding? Would you like more happiness? Would you like more love? Would you like more connection to people? Would you like more intimacy in your life? Would you like more creativity? Would you like to live inspired? People have been looking in the wrong direction. So when you begin to look towards this nonconceptual space that’s inside or beyond or before or prior to anything that you can think, in that quiet you will find that it has to, if you touch that space it has to manifest to something beautiful in your experience.

A new feeling, a new thought , a perspective, insight, inspiration. I love that. That’s built into us and is right there under our nose at all times. As Syd would say ‘It is a thought away’.

Lian: What you just said there is really worth talking about. Again in these kind of conversations we talk a lot about looking inside, we talk a lot about thought and it became easy to misunderstand that and think the answer is in the thoughts and focusing more on the thoughts… which is what you were doing when you were meditating like mad and using lots of techniques. You were looking inside if you consider inside to be looking at your thought and what you are talking about here is going further, past your thoughts before thoughts were even created and I think that’s really worthwhile, a useful thing for people to know.

Dicken: I think so too. Otherwise the direction that they are looking is that they are constantly focusing on what’s already been created and they never look in the direction of what’s doing the creative and to me that’s way more interesting. Like you said before we got started well it sort of funny we can talk about anxiety but we end up talking about the same thing all the time but it is the one thing I never get tired of talking about. You can’t describe it. Its formless but we can intuit it.

I think that if you point people toward a creative capacity of life people intuit the truth of that because it’s true. Its resonates on some level as being true. I’m more than just my thinking content, I am more than my brain. We are a spiritual being to have a physical existence on some level resonates with every single human being because that is true, that is our nature. So you begin to wake up to your true nature which is cool. It’s fascinating because there is no end to what you can learn about that.

Lian: That’s so true. We are talking about the same thing but there is unlimited ways of talking about this and how it manifests in our lives.

Dicken: Which is why I think it is great that you get a chance to interview all these different three principles practitioners as everybody talks about this in their own unique ways and we are all doing the best we can to point people in the exact same direction. Toward the creative capacity of thought or consciousness or mind. In our own way we find our own metaphors, our own stories, our own ways to kind of point on it because we have seen when people begin to look into the direction they begin to experience great benefits.

Lian: That holds true doesn’t it over and over? I think it’s hard to get a glimpse of this and not start to see more for yourself. Which is really what this is about isn’t it? It’s not about someone listening to you and learning Dickens’ view of the world. It’s about opening that door to start to see this for themselves.

Dicken: That’s right. All I can do is point people in the direction and they won’t get the benefit until they themselves look. It’s not what I say that helps people it’s where they look and that is revealed to them. I love this notion. One time Syd Banks says ‘I didn’t discover the principles. They revealed themselves to me.’ On a practical level I didn’t discover that I had innate wellbeing. It was revealed to me. People say you lived in a world of thought as your personal thinking quiets down its built into you to feel better. I went ‘Nah it can’t be that simple.’ Then I just for a moment got a glimpse of the truth of that because I stop trying to think my way to my wellbeing.

I just stopped for a minute, I just stopped using my conceptual mind for one minute, one second I stopped and noticed that I started to feel better. Then I could rest in that space or in that feeling. I didn’t have to go anywhere. If you already have it you don’t have to go anywhere. As soon as I get this figured out I will feel better. As soon as I do this technique long enough I will feel better. Its built into me already and when I wake up to that.

Last night I had a horrible dream. Talk about anxiety. It must have been this little joke from the universe.

Lian: Because we are talking about anxiety! :)

Dicken: I will give you one scary dream. I was in a house and I was on the second floor and all of a sudden I heard someone breaking in the front door and started to come up the stairs toward our bedroom and I started screaming “Get out of here!” My wife is shaking me saying, “Dicken you are having bad dream. Wake up” Oh my gosh. It was such a relief once I woke up from that dream! At night we continued to think and we are going to feel our thinking so I had anxious thinking. And it was scaring the heck out of me. During the day I could have that, instead of calling it a nightmare I could have a day mare. A day mare are just thoughts that scare you that you don’t know the nature of them or where they are coming from and when you realise with a minute this feeling I a feeling so strongly is just thought. It is like waking up from day mare and it throws you into the present mode just like what happen for me when I woke up. I was no longer engaged in that thinking and I didn’t continue to focus on it. I was just relieved. I was resting in that feeling now.

That started happening to me with my anxiety. I started to see it , realise it was thought created so now the world isn’t such a scary place and in that moment of relief I learn to just look in that direction I had been looking. Just resting toward that openness where these deeper feelings will naturally arise or reveal themselves to us.

Lian: I think that’s another really hopeful thing to know because I have heard people talk about once they recognised that my feeling is coming from my thoughts but if I just keep getting those thoughts I am going to keep getting these feelings. So even though I now know that they don’t come from out there, they come from my thoughts. I am no better off because I still feel anxious but I think what you have talked about there is really hopeful for people to hear.

How has it changed for you over time? Have you found that you actually had less of those day mares to wake up to?

Dicken: They frighten me last when they happen. If I wake up to it and it shifts and changes and I feel better I am thrilled. If I realised and I am glad you brought this up because this is a very important point. There are plenty of times when I feel something strongly and I realise that it is being created from thought and it doesn’t shift very well.

When your client said to you ‘I am no better of that knowing it is created from thought’, sure you are! What are you talking about? Of course you are. You are not blaming your spouse anymore for what you are feeling. They are going to think that it’s a better situation. You are not having road rage anymore you are just having a feeling of anger. It no longer is road rage, it has nothing to do with the road or the cars. Of course you are better off.

When I realise that it sort of lightened me up a little bit. It was like I can be accountable of my own experience and that’s huge. That alone is huge and I can be grateful for the fact that I am accountable as oppose to blaming. I can be grateful that even if the storm clouds don’t part I can be grateful that I now know that the light of innate wellbeing is always there. The sun is always there. Before I used to think that when it was stormy there was no sun. So I can be grateful for the fact that I know for a fact that no matter how bad I feel, if I just let the system run itself and sop trying to do anything about it will shift and change on its own at some point. I have never had an anxious feeling that didn’t pass.

That’s good to know. I am feeling anxious, well I am still feeling anxious but there are always passes. Some still there. When it passes I will feel better and I will have all the thinking I need.

Lian: I don’t mean to interrupt you but just what you talked about right at the start about the analogy of waking through the fields of landmines. The way you are talking about it now that the key thing that is going to change is you don’t need to be anxious about being anxious. If you are, you are.

Dicken: Beautiful. I love it. You get more and more comfortable being uncomfortable. That stops being problematic. It sounds funny but I don’t care when I am anxious now because it like it’s raining now. It’s not like a bad thing . It’s my thinking about it that creates most of the problem. It’s not the thinking that makes me feel anxious.

Lian: I can’t believe we’re at an end but I think that’s a great place to end! We have wound up here somehow Dicken.

Dicken: I just realise I was gearing up and just keep going but this has been a delight. I really enjoy talking to you about this.

Lian: It’s been wonderful. It would be great to have you back. I am sure we can take another hour at least. Thank you so much and thank you for being so patient about Lazlo. He is actually falling asleep on the floor at the moment.

Dicken: That just tickles me to know to see the dog jumping up on you! Thank you so much Lian.

Lian: Thank you so much. Have a great day!

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Written by | Lian Brook-Tyler

Lian is a co-founder and the editor of Born Happy and a teacher at the revolutionary happiness course Happy School and the host of the weekly top 10 iTunes rated happiness podcast The Born Happy Show. Her mission is to share the principles behind our inborn happiness with the world – believing that this is our best chance of achieving a happier world! Lian lives with her husband, their two children, and a double helping of ginger goodness: their cat Beatle and their dog Lazslo. Her passions are baking, writing, hosting parties, making and drinking cocktails, and watching wonderful people wake up to a life without limits.

1 Comment

  1. Mel

    February 24, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I loved this – just relistened – it has brought so much clarity for me about the direction to look in: not the content of my thinking / the form already created, but to the formless potential of mind which creates all my experience and provides all the peace and wisdom and intelligence I will ever need. Thank you both so so much xx

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