The Gathering Room: What to Follow When All Your Rules Fail

By Adem Lewis / in , , , /

– Hello?
– Hello! – How you doing?
– Do, do, do, do, do. Do bee do do. Do, do, do, seems like
I’m always wearing pink or red or whatever, and
maybe some people think I only have one shirt. – I think people spend a lot
of time thinking about that. – Mm, yeah.
– That’s Martha Beck. – Only a red shirt.
– I’m Rowan Mangan. It’s The Gathering Room. – Hello! – Here to discuss, Martha
Beck only has one shirt, #conspiracytheory. – We’re a little high in
the shot, there we go. – Oh, we are a little high. (laughing) No, we’re not.
– We’re not high. Not at all! – Hi, Cindy. – Hi Cindy! – [Both] And Sandy. – And Monica.
– And Monica. Hello! And Rachel! Oh, you lovely people, Cat and Tricia.
– Simon’s joining us. How you guys doing? – And Jessica and
Maryanne, hello everybody! – How’s your week been? – How’s it been? It’s been– – How’s your week been?
– About a week long. – A week long? – Approximately a week long. – I feel like it’s been a week long, but slightly wider than the average week. – Yeah, it’s plump. It was a regular length, but chubby week. – Yeah. – I like that, in a week, a lot in there. – There’s a lot to be
contained within the week. – Yes, it’s a week full! A full week of joy! – Yeah. – We did have a full week of joy. And now we’ve got more
than 100 people already, so we’re gonna talk about what to follow when all your rules fail. – Correction, you’re gonna talk about it. I’m gonna go over there, as is my way. I lurk off camera.
– She lurks off camera. – And she drops the truth bombs. – She skulks around– – I do.
– Getting me water and such. Okay, so here’s the deal. We had a friend come over to stay. And this friend had thought of, was praying in a certain way and called their spiritual
leader to find out if it was okay to pray that way. Was that inside the rules? And we got into a discussion about if there are any rules about
how you need to do anything, especially pray, if you’re
a praying kind of person. If you’re not, then rules
about how to do anything, are any rules necessary? And I kept pointing at the
forest outside and saying, there’s not a tree out there in the forest that ever followed a rule. There’s not a fox or a deer out there that ever thinks about the rules. We’re the only creatures in
creation that think about rules. Do you think we’re really that, that we’ve come up with something that is unalterably necessary
and there’s only one species that we know of that ever uses them? I mean, rules are ridiculous. So this person who was with
us was a rule-following type. I myself am not a rule-following type. So, I’ve been pondering on this, and I thought, you know,
here’s the problem. When I was being raised,
all Mormon and what not, they gave me lots of rules,
and I followed all of them. I’m one of the people who can say, you know what, I actually tried it. A lot of people are like,
oh, I broke that one rule, so, mmm, the rules are
probably right and I’m wrong. But I kept every single rule. I mean, I really, really,
I can keep a rule. And I thought I was gonna be happy. I thought I was going to be
at peace because of that. And when I wasn’t, I just
kept piling on more rules, and it never amounted to
much, in my childhood. So then I thought, aha,
there are no rules! I’ve been living that way for awhile, but when you think about it, you can’t really do without any rules. Because for example,
if you went out driving in a city somewhere and everyone
was breaking all the rules, you would not have an
orderly, survivable society. You would have, say, Bangkok. (laughs) That’s how they drive in Bangkok. Sorry, anybody in Thailand. I do apologize if that felt insulting. That was my experience
of traffic in Bangkok. So you need traffic rules,
you need certain rules of how to behave around other people, or everything would go
completely skewampus. But then, this week I was
also driving in sleet. It got sleety. And I was thinking about a time when I was driving a car
with very bald tires. It was a small car with bald tires. And it was on a sleeting day,
and there was a very thin film of watery ice on the road, and I turned downhill while accelerating. That is not a good idea. There’s this reason they tell you not to. The car hydroplaned, which
means it left the road, and the tires were actually
floating on the layer of sleet. And I just started going down the hill, like someone kind of on a random sled. It was just like, oh! And I realized, as I went down the hill with the car going
sideways and crossing lanes and doing all these things,
it wasn’t going very fast but I had no control
over the car, whatsoever. And I thought, ’cause it’s
amazing how clearly you can think at times like that, I thought, the laws of traffic are no
longer followable for me. The laws of physics have taken over. And I just need to abandon my person mind and get back in touch
with the laws of physics. And I don’t how I knew this. I think it’s something that
happens to you in an emergency, where somehow my calculating mind said, I am not up for this
job, and went ka-chunk! And it turned off. And there was my flight or fight response, only it was in that, when you’re really in
a dangerous situation, the interesting thing, if
you follow Gavin de Becker, who wrote “The Gift of Fear”,
he’s an expert on violence, and he’s fascinating. And one of the things he says is that when you’re truly in danger, it’s a calm, like, real, helpful fear,
is a calm impetus to action. It actually tells you what to
do, instead of paralyzing you. So I must’ve been really
afraid, but it felt calm. And I thought, I can’t
think this thing through, and there’s no traffic
law that’s gonna help me. So, I need to go somewhere else. And what happened was
everything went very quiet, and my body, in the car,
started to feel for the sense of how the machine was moving, and how the road was
conditioned and everything. And in this strange way, I
felt myself becoming the car. And I could feel its
loss of grip on the road, and I could feel the temperature, I could feel all these things. And I sort of, it was the strangest thing, it’s not like I willed the
car to do anything special, but it was like my will and
my understanding of physics became the same thing. And as the car, I pushed myself sideways. And the car went sideways,
and I don’t know if that was just the way that the slope
was going or whatever, but it was this weird
sense that my consciousness and the car were now in the same body. I stopped being just this, and
I was now sensing my tires, and my bumper and all that. And I just pushed myself
off to the side of the road. And so, I thunked against a gutter there and just sat there breathing. And then I got the rush of adrenalin, I was (panting heavily). And you know, somehow miraculously, traffic had opened up around
me, and I hadn’t been squished. But that experience stayed with me, because there was the, I need rules, for the traffic to work. Then there was the, my
human rules are gone, the laws of physics are taking over. And then there was an experience that, from my understanding,
transcended the laws of physics, and I became one with a
different consciousness. So, this is what I wanted
to tell you about today. That we sat, while my friend was visiting, we sat there going, okay, if
you say there are no rules, and that we should all follow nature, doesn’t that give every
alcoholic a free license to just drink and drink and drink? Doesn’t it give every murderer free reign to murder and murder? There are no rules, just
murder who you want. There have to be some
rules, but the fact is, we have to acknowledge that
any rule we make for living is fallible and possibly wrong. Like, there used to be
a whole lot of rules. You know, slaves obey your masters is a rule in the New Testament. I don’t agree with that rule anymore. Turns out we sort of evolved beyond it. That rule doesn’t work
for me, as an individual. I don’t think it works for many societies. There are still societies
where they do it, but I think that we now have a rule that says slavery is wrong. Let us end it and
everything connected to it. So we’ve switched rules. So we still need the rules,
but we have to acknowledge that there’s this paradox in rules. They have to be rigid to hold us in place, but they have to be flexible to reflect our evolving knowledge and
our evolving consciousness. When that happens, strange, when you can let yourself
be completely flexible and you follow the rigid rule to the point where it
no longer works for you, and then you let it go, then
the consciousness arises from which something wiser is emerging. And this you can follow. I was just thinking about
another friend of mine who had a car accident. I may have told you about this one already because it was very strange. She was driving through an intersection and someone who was high on crystal meth came through the intersection
at 70 miles an hour and did not even tap his brakes, just hit her car which was an SUV, which went up in the
air and spun and tumbled so that it it literally collapsed
all six sides of the cube. The car was completely crushed. Like, people who came to get her out of it could not believe she survived. In fact, she not only survived, she walked away without a scratch. But the weirdest thing
was that, same as with me, when she’s felt, she saw the
car just before it hit her, and she managed to turn the
steering wheel just slightly, and that’s what kept it from
being even more devastating. But she grabbed the steering
wheel tightly with both hands, and she remembers that very vividly. So she turned, it hit her,
her car went (mumbles), it came to rest on its roof, and she was hanging upside
down from the seatbelt. But in her hand was her cellphone. Now, there was no time between grabbing with both hands the steering wheel and the car tumbling in
all these directions. Her cell phone was not in her hand. In that chaos, somehow her hand grabbed her phone as it went by. She doesn’t remember doing it. She doesn’t remember thinking about it. All she remembers is everything
went very quiet inside her, and she thought, oh, this is
what it’s like when you die. Oh, well, this is interesting. It’s not nearly as
scary as I thought, hmm. And that seems to go on forever. In the meantime in the physical world, all this chaos was ensuing, but somehow the cellphone got to the hand. That’s another example of
the rules failed, she let go, and while the rules of physics seemed to make her life spin out of control, some thing that is beyond physics
put her phone in her hand, and she was able to call
her husband right away and get her out of the situation. So I started to think
about when, you know, for all you guys out there, I know because sometimes
we’ll read the comments after we finished The Gathering Room where we hear from people
on email or something, and the rules of your
family are breaking down. Right now I’m coaching
someone for Oprah Magazine where all the rules for
her life have broken. She doesn’t know what to do. So since it’s in a magazine, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I told you. Her husband of many years, with whom she has I think
three children, is transgender. And she told my client
about this just recently, and my client is completely sympathetic with her husband’s position, but still doesn’t know how
to function in her own life now that she found out that he’s a she. So there’s no animosity,
but there’s complete chaos. It feels like one of the
most fundamental rules of her life has been broken. The man she thought she was
married to is actually a woman. So that doesn’t go with anything
she was taught growing up. It is kind of consistent
with what society is learning as we become more, as we allow. It’s one of our, I think,
steps toward more illumination, just like no slavery. It’s like, okay, no
slavery to gender either? Okay, yes! Let’s not suppress people that way either. But she’s in this place where, boom, it’s the middle of the car wreck, and she’s tumbling through the air, and she doesn’t know
what’s gonna catch her. And I don’t know what’s gonna catch her. But I remember that
stillness that came over me when that car hydroplaned, and it’s happened to me
before and several times since when the rules of my life
broke down to the extent that I sat back and went,
okay, let’s just see, as my friend this week said,
let’s see how God handles this. And there’s this complete
stillness that comes, and then a miracle sometimes occurs. I was thinking about how
one of the rules of nature seems to be if you get a
certain type of glass lens and you make it a certain
curvature, and it’s very clear, and you put it in a tube,
and you look through it, say at the planet Saturn, you will see that Saturn
has rings around it. And you can’t see the rings, not everyone can see the
rings with the naked eye, but if you do put it through
this particular telescope, you will see that Saturn has rings. By the same token, if you sit very quietly and focus on a thought, like
I am, for a very long time, people of all faiths in
all geographic regions and all cultures will tell you you stumble over a no-thingness
that is loving, divine, and somehow essential
deeper than any other thing. And it is home, and you will
feel that sense of homecoming. And so this seems to be a law of nature. So when you bring together
the traffic accident that is your life coming
apart at the hinges, I think using that law
of nature, going still, it’s what happened to me instinctively during the car accident, it’s what happened to
my friend instinctively during the car accident. It was not a retrenchment
to any rules of humans. No rules of humans can handle
it when things really crash. But if you get still enough, that no-thingness comes forward, and it can take the wheel. So I thought, well, what does this, what’s the takeaway from this? Which I will tell you now, and then I’ll answer some questions. I thought here’s the deal. If you’ve broken rules in your life, forgive yourself right now. Because no set of rules is absolute. No set of rules is enough. No set of rules is absolutely right, and no set of rules ultimately
works for any individual. The rules are a rough sketch of what your life’s supposed to be. So if you’ve broken some
and you feel bad about it, stop feeling so bad. Also, don’t enslave yourself
to any set of rules. Be very, very flexible, and by that I mean ready to
let go of any rule at any time, any rule at any time. Think about my client. She has such a huge heart
and such a vast spirit. She’s so loving, and she’s
had to open her heart to the rules of her marriage
changing completely. And by God, she’s doing it, but it’s requiring so much
flexibility and courage. It takes so much courage
to let go and forgive and be flexible at a time
when things are crashing. And then, the only thing
really left to do is be ready. So my team at my company,
we met in California about a month or two ago,
and we were talking about what’s our our corporate
mission statement for the year? And we asked everybody what their individual mission statements were, and everybody kind of went
I don’t really have a goal, but I have a, it feels
like I need to be ready. And all of us just kind of
went, oh, we need to be ready. We need to be ready. And we all felt very strongly
that we needed to be ready. And then we asked be ready for what? And nobody knew, but that’s
the thing about being ready. If you’re ready for something specific, you’re always going to get to clenched up and you won’t actually be ready for it. Only a position of openness
and relaxation allows you to be ready enough so that
when the thing happens, whether it’s the car accident, or the marriage going strange, or something wonderful
like falling in love, it can still feel like a car accident, it messes up your whole life,
an unexpected pregnancy, whatever it is, it can be a
joyful wonderful car crash and just take all the rules away from you. And if you have a loose enough
hold on the steering wheel, and you’re ready to totally relax, then you’re ready for the no-thing to step into your consciousness and become one with the
consciousness of the whole scenario, become one with the consciousness of the cellphone going into the hand, or the car being pushed,
it felt like by the mind, toward the side of the street. So it’s an experience
I kind of hope you have and an experience I kind
of hope you don’t have, because it’s a little scary. But when you get to that place
where the no-thing steps in and the consciousness
expands, it’s awesome. So that’s what I have to say about that. If rules are failing you now, relax, forgive yourself, and be ready. And what questions do
we have, Rowan Mangan, oh notorious badger? – [Rowan] Let me slide back into the chair and I will tell you. – The chair of badger power. – That’s right the badger power chair. Now available online, three easy payments. Badger power chair. Okay sorry, I just get back in shot, and I get everything set up just right. – Just right! – So Pam asked if this concept related to a previous discussion where you said that if we’re completely honest, our true self cannot lead
us in the wrong direction? – Yeah, absolutely. And truly honest is,
Nisargadatta Maharaj says, the only true statement
the mind can ever make is I do not know. Because anything the mind tries to grasp is actually, you know, you could have, your perceptions could be wrong. You could be dreaming. The mind can twist anything. So the mind really at its most truthful just is I don’t know, at
which point you’re left with something deeper than your intellect, and you fall back on the laws of nature and the laws of the no-thingness. And boom, you’re there again. – Ann says how can you invite someone to look at a rigid rule
that’s no longer serving them? – You have to let them crash, I think. I mean, you can shout and
scream all day at people, you know, your rigidity
is going to destroy you! And it will make them, and
this is statistically proven. I mean, they do all these
political opinion surveys. People who are very rigid in their views, if you show them dead to rights evidence that their view is factually incorrect, like fossil fuels really
do come from the ground, or whatever, whatever they
think, even if science and all the angels tell them differently, the more strongly the evidence
disproves their belief, the stronger their belief becomes, the stronger their belief becomes. So trying to push someone out of a rigid rule makes it more rigid. So what you do is you just fade back into the laws of nature
yourself and watch. Because if they’re following a very rigid rule, it will fail. So you can just kind of sit there and go, hmm, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ’cause it’s gonna explode. That sounds vengeful. It’s not vengeful, it’s just
the only thing I know to do. – Works for me. Maryanne says how do we raise children to see that some rules are
here to keep them safe, but that it’s also important to challenge and think beyond the rules and be curious, because this is where
creativity often lies, beyond the rules. – I think you would say,
here’s the way I do it, can you think of a better way? And say that all the time. I teach all my coaches, one of the very first
things our coaches know, and a lot of you have coaches, is you tell your client your
opinion about something, like it seems to me, like
I would say to my client that I’m coaching right now, so it seems to me that
you feel very upset. Like, not rocket science, right? And then I say tell me where I’m wrong. Is your experience, am I correctly assessing your experience? And I’ve had people say how
could you possibly tell? How could you say that? That subverts your own authority, and how could you have
other people say it? That’s not respecting
them to have them say tell me where I’m wrong. But I believe that it’s the
fundamental truth of language is that it’s never the entirety of what’s right or what’s accurate. So it’s an active humility
and honesty and integrity to always say am I wrong about that? Now, I wouldn’t say that
to a child at any time. I was driving a child one day, and the child was playing
with the gearshift. And I said to him you grab
that your shift one more time and you’re walking and
I’m not even kidding! And he knew I was serious, and he stopped touching the gearshift. I was telling him follow
the laws of nature and this is a law of in this car. And there are times when, and that’s what rules are good for. They really are. There’s this scene in Little
House in the Big Woods, which was the prequel to
Little House on the Prairie, where they’re living in the Big Woods, and one day Laura Ingalls
Wilder’s father comes home. And all the girls are little, little, they’re like one, two,
three, four, or something. And their father comes running into their little, tiny
cabin in the Big Woods in the middle of winter, and he’s like, under the beds, don’t move, don’t make a sound, now! And then he slams the door and goes out. They all get under the beds,
they go absolutely silent, and a pack of wolves comes
and surrounds the house. And the father is out there
with his gun trying to make sure they don’t get through
any window or any door. And you understand in
a very profound level why people were taught to
obey their parents, right? But that’s really different from saying, you know, there’s too much indignation in that video game you’re playing, so why don’t you just back it off and give up screens altogether, whatever. There’s a big difference between the rule that says the wolves are coming and the rule that says there may be GMO modified corn flour in
that tortilla, or whatever. (laughing) What was I talking about? Yes, about how to teach the children. But when you’re with a
child in a state of play, or in a state of learning, especially when you’re
teaching them something about the world, say where am I wrong? Can you find a place where I’m wrong? And that will always teach
them that even a grown up, even authority systems
should be questioned, should be examined, that
they never, never need to give up individual, their intellect, their intelligence, their
intuition, their emotion. It’s all valid. And we do it by being humble with them. Yes. – That’s wise words. – Unless there are wolves. – Yeah. – Then you scream. – Scream. – Scream.
– It’s only natural. That’s what your true self wants to do. Judith says I’m fine with
breaking certain rules, but there is generally a cost in the form of people who are absolutely
shocked and unsure if anybody stops obeying those rules. How to deal with that
in patience and love? – Well, I think you just
have to hold the course. Lord knows I’ve done that
a few thousand times. And a lot of the people who were shocked by my breakage of rules
couldn’t handle it, and they were like,
that’s a judgmental way to say they did not like it. They did not agree with me, and they may be right, I don’t know. But I felt like I was doing
what was right for me. So you’re gonna, sometimes
people will drop off as you obey your deepest truth. But the the law of the
no-thingness is also drawing to you the situations and individuals who will most resonate with
your particular fractal, with that form. So part of forgiving yourself
and being ready to let go is forgiving yourself for
having offended people and letting go of the
people who are offended when you live your truth. And that is just, that’s
something you have to do continuously throughout your life. It’s interesting ’cause I used to think, there are a lot of studies showing that people who have continued contact with their families of origin through life, very close contact, are at a better mental
and physical health. And then I was like, oh, that’s not me. And then I asked a therapist once, and the therapist said maybe
the causality is backwards. They are healthy and happy because they have the kind
of families that go with them on their journey through life instead of going how dare you! So instead of that, like,
if you don’t have a group of friends and loved ones
who are going with you, then you have this radical flexibility in your relationship
life where you realize that everyone is a portion
of your own consciousness, that love is eternal, that you
can’t ultimately lose anyone, and that continuous
transformation and change means that love relationships
are always changing. You may get, you may choose
the right person to marry and then later– – They’re not the right person. – They’re not the right person. And then somebody else
is the right person. I mean, you never know. That’s how it works. But it’s all good. So one of the rules that you can break is everything has to be
the same all the time – Oh, must break, must break that rule. – Yeah, so do we have another comment? – Oh, yes, we do. – Oh, excellent. – Marsha says Oprah used to say listen before the brick falls on your head. So do the rules break apart
because we haven’t listened? – I think so, yeah. I think that you generally get a lot of, Oprah used to talk about
first, you get a whisper, little voice in your ear
going that’s not gonna work. And then it becomes, I
think she said a message, which is like someone
tapping it going, hey, hey, that’s really not gonna work. Then, it becomes a lesson. Hey, hey, hey, this is not working. Then, it becomes a problem. Oh my goodness, the car is hydroplaning. And then it becomes a crisis. Oh my gosh, now the car is
mangled on all four sides. And if you listen at the whispers stage and learn to listen very closely, then you get out of the
way before the catastrophe. So my motto is, and I was telling this to our friend this week, cave early. So life is trying to to get you to cave in and give up your rigid
rules and expectations. The earlier you cave, the less you suffer. I’m just sayin’. – I love that. – Whatever is trying to
tell you, no, don’t do that, don’t keep that rule anymore, it’s not gonna work for you, cave now. Let this be the day you
just go, oh, I hear that, and I’m not gonna wait for
a problem or even a lesson. I’m just out of here. – Yeah. Okay, Alexis says, Martha,
how do you move past rules you developed to survive,
such as not trusting others, especially when it’s so automatic? – Yeah, you have to be, you
have to become the wisdom that is watching the one who is harmed. So every time you have a trauma, the part of you that’s
in trauma forms rules about how to not let that happen again. And those rules can keep you safe, and they can ruin your freakin’ life. You know, if you don’t trust anyone in a bad place, you’re safe. If you don’t trust anyone
for the rest of your life, you are in solitary confinement
and it doesn’t work. So what happens is you
have to be learn to look with a different part of yourself at the part that was traumatized. And I call it the compassionate witness. And this is part of sitting
quietly and saying I am. One of the things that happens
is you start to realize that you’re not your trauma and that you’re bigger than your trauma. And you know that because you
can talk about your trauma. You don’t just have to
talk from inside it. The moment you can talk about it, there’s a part of you that’s watching it. And that part of you, as it describes the
part that’s traumatized, gains more individuality, and then you can say from
that wiser perspective, wow, I really get why
you don’t trust anyone. I understand that that’s
an outgrowth of trauma. You can trust me. And then you become a
very trustworthy person to the part of you that was traumatized. You’re kind, you’re forgiving,
you’re open, you’re flexible. All of this stuff helps
you be a better person to hold the aspects of yourself
that are rigid in trauma. Because rigid and rigid
rules and rigid rule keeping are very intermingled with trauma. So as you get looser about keeping rules, you also get looser about
being locked in trauma. And when you can be the love
that has no need for rules, but will always be present, then the trauma part can start to thaw, and that’s a law of nature. It thaws like ice melting in the spring. And you can’t force, it
but you can encourage, you can create a system,
create an environment that will cause it to happen for sure. Yes! – Thank you. – Thank you guys for coming. – Thank you. – I was shouting and shouting for a while. It’s because I feel so adamantly that you should not do what I say. (laughing) So we love you very much. – We love you.
– And we hope you come to our next Gathering
Room. (smooching) – We’ll see you soon. – Bye bye.
– Bye.

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