Cloud

It’s not easy to get over intense, chronic fears.  They are adaptive mechanisms that have survival value.  To ignore them or to pretend that they do not exist rarely works. Imagine that you were Toby, who had a cardiac arrest on an airplane when he was a teenager and has been afraid of flying ever sense. What would you do? Integral Deep Listening (IDL) encourages us to face our fears and listen to what they have to say to us.  When we do, we often find that they transform themselves automatically into a solution that is unique and that makes sense for us, in that it is authentic, organic, and appropriate to who we are. Here is what Toby discovered when he interviewed the personification of his fear of flying:

Toby’s fear of flying reminded him of the color “white,” and “white” congealed into a white cloud. Here is what the white cloud had to say:

“I’m above Toby.  I’m calm and relaxed.  I change how I look like from day to day.  I’m on top of things and look down.  I don’t have to worry about a job or being healthy or other clouds treating me badly.  We clouds don’t talk so much!”

“I like that I have inner peace!  If I didn’t have it, my life as a cloud would be pretty bad.  I have so much time to think about myself.  If I didn’t have inner peace I’d be obsessed with my problems.  I don’t have many ways I can run away from myself like people have.  My strengths are that I spread rain and water, that is really necessary for the world. Sometimes I could be more trusting.  I would love to be able to talk to other clouds and make friendships and not be all alone all the time.”

“I personify Toby’s capacity for inner peace. I have more of it than he does, definitely! If I could be anywhere I wanted and take any form, ,I would be able to talk and get more in contact with other clouds.  But then there would be the possibility of fights and disagreements!  I would lose some of my inner peace!  But still, I think it would be worth it.  I can choose the clouds that value their inner peace too and don’t want to fight.”

“On a scale of zero to ten I score myself a ten in all six of the core qualities associated with waking up and enlightenment. I am a ten in confidence because there is nothing that can really happen to me.  I do good things.  Why shouldn’t I have confidence? I’m a ten in confidence because when I talk to other clouds and give water to the world, I’m compassionate! I’m a ten in wisdom because I see everything from above. If Toby were able to look out at his world the way I do mine, his life issues would be solved!  There’s nothing that can cause him trouble or make him really afraid or scared if he is me.  The ability to stand back and watch means that when bad things happen they don’t affect him so much!”

“Toby had reasons in his life to be scared, but he is OK now.  He can relax and enjoy life more, like me.  He can live more in the now.  He can take the risks to fly, taking short trips first to get used to it.  If Toby felt like me he wouldn’t be scared.  He would be relaxed and have inner peace.  He wouldn’t worry about things. That would change everything.  He wouldn’t look back.  He would enjoy the day!”

“Regarding flying, I recommend that he start making short trips from Berlin to places like Vienna, Milan, or Paris.  Toby could always come up with good reasons not to go, but he shouldn’t make excuses! Regarding his new work, he is doing pretty good at handling that right now.  He is working hard.  It’s a good risk but he’s not scared about it.  He jumps on the surfboard! Regarding his relationship, there are good and bad sides to it.  In some respects they are really different from each other. Toby needs to make a decision about the relationship one day because he’s turning thirty now and wants to start a family by the time he’s thirty-five.  He’s not sure if the relationship is the right one for him.  If I were a human I would stay out of the Drama Triangle in my relationships. I am here to tell Toby that I am a part of him that has a lot of strengths and abilities that he needs.  I am pretty strong in the qualities that he lacks. He needs to talk to me or think about me.  If he becomes me, he’s afraid of being in the sky.  But the more he becomes me, the more it will help him to lose his fears. It will especially help him if when he looks at the sky and sees it so big and high and feels out of control; he can then think of me not being afraid of anything!”

What did Toby hear the cloud saying to him?

“It would be good for me to jump into the cloud’s role when I am afraid of flying or looking up at the sky and feeling overwhelmed.  I can develop more inner peace and inner freedom by becoming the sky.  I heard it say that it is my friend now! I should start changing the way I’m thinking while I’m dealing with my problems.  I created the cloud so it’s possible for me to think another way.  My scared feelings are just stupid thoughts I created.  I can have positive thoughts and inner peace as well.”

This interview gives Toby permission to re-imagine his life and his relationship to his fear in new, liberating ways. It gives him creative alternatives to his mindless habitual reactivity to his anxiety.

There are two aspects of Toby’s fear that are emphasized here: his fear of heights and his fear of being swallowed and rendered insignificant by the endless expanse of the sky. The cloud is at peace with both of these aspects of his chronic fear.

Toby, who was twenty-nine when he did this interview, had serious heart problems as a teenager, including a major cardiac arrest on an airplane.  He had good reasons to have physical fear and to be afraid of flying.   Those fears were not going to go away because of one interview.  What we can expect to see is a gradual, steady receding of fears as confident and objective perspectives are strengthened in his identity. But such fears must not only be re-imagined; they must be faced. Toby must overlay the inner peace of this cloud in those life situations that fear previously defined.

The problem with Toby’s cloud, as is the case with most IDL interviews, is that the cloud quickly becomes a distant, forgotten, and imaginary experience while his fear is immediate, real, and threatening. How can the cloud ever compete with such a powerful, overwhelming, and continuously reinforced experience?

The answer is, of course, that it cannot, nor should we expect it to. IDL interviews work like vaccinations and “booster shots” that create, build, and maintain immunity to drama and delusion while infusing “growth hormones,” or “positive growth factors” that clarify, direct, and enhance the expansion of consciousness. The experience of being the cloud amplifies for Toby, every time he remembers to “become” it, both feelings and perceptions that provide solutions to his chronic anxiety.

 

Here is the transcript of Toby’s interview:

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

1. Fear of flying

2. Making my new job a success

3. Relationship

Which life issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?

Flying

If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?

White

Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.

Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What?

A white cloud!

Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!

Cloud, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I’m above Toby.  I’m calm and relaxed.  I change how I look like from day to day.  I’m on top of things and look down.  I don’t have to worry about a job or being healthy or other clouds treating me bad.  We don’t talk so much!

What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

That I have inner peace!  If I didn’t have it my life as a cloud would be pretty bad.  I have so much time to think about myself.  If I didn’t have inner peace I’d be obsessed with my problems!  I don’t have many ways I can run away from myself like people have!  My strengths are that I spread rain and water, that is really necessary for the world.

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

Sometimes I could be more trusting.  I would love to be able to talk to other clouds and make friendships and not be all alone all the time.

Cloud, you are in this person’s life experience, correct?  They created you, right?_____  (Character), what aspect of this person do you represent or most closely personify?

I have more inner peace than Toby does! Definitely!

Cloud, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

I would be able to talk and get more in contact with other clouds.  But then there would be the possibility of fights and disagreements!  I would lose some of my inner peace!  But still I think it would be worth it.  I can choose the clouds that value their inner peace too and don’t want to fight.

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

Cloud, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:  confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

 

Confidence: 10 There is nothing that can really happen to me.  I do good things.  Why shouldn’t I have confidence?

Compassion: 10 When I talk to other clouds and give water to the world I’m compassionate!

Wisdom: 10 I see everything from above.

Acceptance: 10

Inner Peace: 10

Witnessing: 10

How would Toby’s life be different if he naturally scored high in all six of these qualities all the time?

His life issues would be solved!  There’s nothing that can cause him trouble or make him really afraid or scared if he is me.  The ability to stand back and watch means that when bad things happen they don’t affect him so much!

If you could live Toby’s life for him, how would you live it differently?

Toby had reasons in his life to be scared.  But he is OK now.  He can relax and enjoy life more, like me.  He can live more in the now.  He can take the risks to fly, short trips first to get used to it.  If Toby felt like me he wouldn’t be scared.  He would be relaxed and have inner peace.  He wouldn’t worry about things. That would change everything.  He wouldn’t look back.  He would enjoy the day!

If you could live this person’s waking life for him today, would you handle her three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1. Flying: Start making short trips.  Vienna, Milan, or Paris would be good for him to start.  Toby could always come up with good reasons not to go, but he shouldn’t make excuses!

2. New work:  He is doing pretty good at handling that right now.  He is working hard.  It’s a good risk but he’s not scared about it.  He jumps on the surfboard!

3. Relationship: There are good and bad sides to his relationship.  In some things they are really different.  He needs to make a decision one day because he’s turning thirty now and wants to start a family by the time he’s thirty-five.  He’s not sure if the relationship is the right one for him.  If I were a human I would stay out of the Drama Triangle in my relationships.

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of her life?

 

I would focus on the same ones, but he’s handling his work well.

Why do you think that you are in Toby’s life?

I am here to tell Toby that I am a part of him that has a lot of strengths and abilities that he needs.  I am pretty strong in the qualities that he lacks.

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Toby to imagine that she is you and act as you would?

He needs to talk to me or think about me.  If he becomes me he’s afraid of being in the sky.  But the more he becomes me the more it will help him to lose his fears.

Cloud, what do you think would work for Toby to keep you a real, living part of their daily life?

Especially when  he looks at the sky and sees it so big and high and feels out of control.  He should think of me not being afraid of anything!

Toby, what have you heard yourself say?

It would be good for me to jump into the cloud’s role when I am afraid of flying or looking up at the sky and feeling overwhelmed.  I can develop more inner peace and inner freedom by becoming the sky.  I heard it say that it is my friend now!

If this experience were a wake-up call from your soul, what do you think it would be saying to you?

I should start changing the way I’m thinking while I’m dealing with my problems.  I created the cloud so it’s possible for me to think another way.  My scared feelings are just stupid thoughts I created.  I can have positive thoughts and inner peace as well.