Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Circular Thinking

I get a lot of questions about the paranormal. In the last 20 years I’ve had people ask me to teach them how to speak to animals, connect with the Dead, develop telepathy, and even figure out how to levitate. Ironically the hardest lessons aren’t about the paranormal but more so about ordinary life challenges and abilities.

On the Medicine Wheel there are 12 elements: Clarity, knowledge, illumination, growth, trust, love, experience, introspection, strength, renewal, purification and wisdom. According to Sacred Circle tradition it only takes these elements to reach a point of learning and healing; beauty and abundance; interconnection; and good attitudes and gratitude. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an elder or medicine teacher talk about happiness, prosperity and health. These are Western aspirations or Hallmark wishes. In truth I was often told my teachers and elders to focus on the way of the circle and to apply myself to learn simple, basic attitudes and skills to eventually reach a point of wellness – a word, which seems to embody all of what is good, strong and whole in me and the world around me. In many ways the idea of happiness, health and prosperity speaks of how today’s human being is obsessed with individuality and materialism. It’s all about wanting, getting and possessing.

Most people understand the notion of a circle from an intellectual point of view. They can draw a circle or recognize a circle as an image but rare are those people who understand what it means to think in a circular manner. For example a man a few years back, approached me in hope that I could help him and his wife get back together. They weren’t divorced yet. His wife had allegedly discovered he had a mistress, and felt betrayed and rejected. She couldn’t trust him despite the fact she still expressed she still loved him. Even after seeing a few therapists every conflict always came back to that moment in time where she found out he lied and he was seeing someone else. She just couldn’t get beyond this incident.

“I know she’s the woman for me,” he told me over the phone, “I just have to convince her that I’m the man for her.”

Once we finally sat down together I asked the question: “Tell me what was going on in your life at the moment you two met?”

Both CP and PT looked at each other as if to say “why would these details have anything to do with what is going on in our relationship”. I explained to them that according to the sacred circle every little detail in our personal story plays a role in the way we feel, we think, we express ourselves, we react and we behave. At first, neither one of them could recall what was going on in their lives almost fifteen years ago. I suggested they approach other family members and attempt to trigger a memory or two. Finally after almost a month CP came back with the most incredible story. She even started the conversation with the comment: “I don’t know how I could have possibly have forgotten?”

“Two weeks before I met PT” she explained while pulling an elastic out of her hair “my mother told us she was leaving my father because he was having an affair.”
Both PT and CP who were used to psychologists jumped to the conclusion that CP’s inability to forgive PT was related to old resentments. CP admitted being upset with her father. She didn’t understand how he could hurt her mother in such a way. After a bit of therapeutic healing work I asked CP if she remembered why she had decided to start dating PT at this point in time. Right away she said: “I liked the way he was completely outraged at the fact that my father could do such a thing… He made me feel safe.”

I explained to the couple how linear thinking sees a beginning and end to all things whereas circular thinking shows us momentum. It shows us we’ll always cross the point where we started and if we closely pay attention we can either repeat a mistake or bring resolution to it. It allows us to learn and heal. It brings us to change bad habits and bad attitudes. It brings us to see the full picture and make new choices. If two people concentrate on following the way of the circle they can come to a point of forgiveness and build a momentum to their relationship, which in part means give it a chance to live on indefinitely. Of course, if two people dedicate to linear thinking everything will come to have a beginning and ending.

Through listening to their story and with the help of circular thinking I was able to predict that CP would eventually forgive her husband because she had come to forgive her father. It would possibly take her seven years because that’s how long it had taken for her to speak to her father again. Since she believed from the start that her boyfriend was completely different from her dad, the chances were she would eventually ask for a divorce and seek out a man who would devote to her and her alone. And finally, PT would be heart broken for a while because this was the way he often reacted when loosing something he considered important to his life.

After sharing my predictions with the couple I also suggested ways for them to move through their issues and stay together. The Wheel also teaches us there are 36 different perspectives to every issue, question, or life experience. We can learn to let go of our programs, our judgments and our rigidity. For while, the couple committed to doing personal work and adopting a circular point of view but six months down the line CP was already interested in someone else and PT was upset with his soon-to-be-ex-spouse for “calling the kettle black.” It was then CP started forgiving PT. As I had predicted the couple got divorced. PT continued learning about circular thinking and it eventually helped him change his ways. His old mistress crossed his path one day and today, they are happily married.

See how the way of the circle works?

There is no right or wrong when it comes to circular thinking. It’s not about social rules and programs. It’s about watching how details come together and seeing what they weave. It’s about being attentive to nature and cosmology.

Our First Nation ancestors didn’t own land, they didn’t possess their loved ones (spouse or children) and they didn’t accumulate material. They lived in a circular manner. Today, it’s difficult to live according to the circle because our attitudes are all about owning. We own homes, cars, clothing etc… Children as young as infancy own toys and grow up to ask for them at birthdays and Christmas. We even own our spouses. Think about it if we divorce we owe our spouses half of our belongings. It’s no wonder most relationships fail these days because even before we connect to the other person we have expectations. We are educated from birth to want and to possess. We are the fabric of our society. It’s all about what we want and how we want it. Who is taught to be prepared to listen or to uncover the true nature of others? Who is taught to express themselves honestly, sincerely, clearly and truthfully about what they are and what they are seeking? We are master manipulators.

To master circular thinking doesn’t mean that we have to be poor and homeless but it does mean that we have to adopt different attitudes. For example, it could start just by adopting and exploring clarity in your life. Don’t be afraid to be clear about your intentions, your expectations and your life story. A student of mine recently said to me: “I won’t be too popular if I follow that advice.” I giggled at his sincerely and replied: “You may not be popular for a little while but there will be some people who will find you irresistible. What do you prefer be surrounded by pretense and illusions or get a chance to live something real?”

He nodded in approval.

I think we make a mistake if we believe that consciousness will be born out of linear society. Consciousness is a natural phenomenon that breathes within a circle. If we don’t learn to step into a circle and be part of it --- consciousness won’t be ours for the taking (sorry for the pun).


Wheelkeeper said...

I love this post Lisa and will have to read it several times to get the full benefit of it. Your words and teachings are timeless and profound. There is so much to learn about circular thinking.. and how to apply it to our lives.

Thank you for your stories and wisdom.

Fishrarr said...

I found this post very interesting, good one Lisa. You said "For example, it could start just by adopting and exploring clarity in your life."
To me Charity is one of the most important things that we can do, in all parts of your life’s. It's an on going process. When we do have some clarity then we know where we are at the moment, and can more easily choose the next step, without it, we are always swimming up stream, and that takes a lot of energy.
I find that KISS is an another good one, KEEP IT SUPER, SIMPLE.
I also find that in a relationship, any relationship, it takes all parties to be there all or most of the time, it's not really a part time thing, either you are there or you are not. If one party is not there then it's not clear or simple.
Every morning when we wake up, we choose where we are going that day, because we created that in dreamtime already, it's our dream, so why not dream big, just remember to follow though, as it's a part of the circle. Tom.

Fishrarr said...

I have been thinking about this post and just have to add a bit more as I feel it is so important.
To me what this boils down to are two old sayings; "Where your thoughts are so your energy goes", and "What goes around, comes around."
Thanks, Lisa for the story, it shares the above sayings in a good way.
The choices that we make every day are not just for the short term, they may get passed down to the next family member in line and so on. To me that's why it's so important to keep clearing old programing. That can be the greatest gift that we can give to the children, so that they no longer have to deal with the choices that have been made in the past. Tom.

Wapeyit Malsom said...


You are 100% right.
The best gift we can give the 7 generations to come -- is to clean up our act and get rid of the useless programs, illusions, judgments and expectations. It's important to realize that we are carrying heavy generational loads and unless we want to pass it over to our children and grand-children we have to give a good spring cleaning.

What better time than now to get started!!!


Michelle said...

I am not sure if I am getting the circular thinking right but I wanted to send you this....let me know if I am getting there,,..
Lisa this post brought me to my beginning. Most of my mothers family told her to have an abortion and not ruin her life. She told me she felt me kick and that was teh end of it she was having me. I see how this influenced my current need to please everyone do more with less.
I am working on sitting in my breathe being silent is hard because I am so used to going and doing thinking really it is tough for me to shut my mental brain off. When I do get to those moments of silence I am relaxed and feel great I just wonder if what I am doing is in alignment with things.... Should I be doing somthing else there is this fear in me that I am not getting it good enough you know. I know its dumb to think like that but there is a part of me that strives to understand and make sure I do my work so that Im actually moveing forward and not just witnessing things mimicking ? I put this expectation on me that being busy is what is needed so that I was not a failure to everyone. I am seeing a bigger picture and it brings me joy! Circular Thinking gives you a lot to focus on. I am ready to step in...

Lisa F. Tardiff said...

Tom. I wonder if you are still reading. I haven't seen you on the board for a while. I re-visited old posts and was happy to come across old friends...