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Thought Rehearsal: Reinstall Your Personal Programming

We human beings are in many ways self-programmed…

The way in which you run through and perceive your life depends heavily on the programs you yourself have installed.  You already know  that your environment and circumstances cause the neurons in your brain to organize in a particular pattern, which results in changes to your emotional state and to the chemical state of your body.  What you may not realize is that by rehearsing the memory of that experience, you program yourself to be predisposed to that state.

Stacking the Deck – Will You Stack it FOR or AGAINST Yourself?

Here’s how it works.  Emotions help us to remember experiences – we remember how it felt, and we tend particularly to remember things that evoke a strong emotional response.  In neurological terms, the brain records our chemical state at that time.

Let’s say that you have a particularly upsetting experience- maybe being fired from a job, maybe a fight with someone close to you.  Afterward, you rehearse that experience over and over in your mind.  What your mind remembers at that point is not an objective record of what happened, but a mosaic of all of the most powerfully unpleasant stimuli which have been chemically seared into your memory.

You quickly recreate in your body the same emotional-chemical state that the experience itself created.  You become saturated with fear and anger.  This is nothing more than prolonged stimulation of the fight or flight response.  And maybe this incident continues to bother you, and you periodically relive it for years on end.  And maybe it feeds into a whole chain of similar incidents you have lined up already, all gnawing at your sense of self-worth, feeding that fight-or-flight response.  Talk about shell-shock!

Your body can’t tell the difference between real and remembered experience, so as far as it’s concerned, it is living in the past.  If rehearsed long enough, these feelings become so engrained that you cannot think them away, and even during pleasant experiences, your own chemical ground state is stacked against you.  Everything you perceive is then seen through this emotional-chemical haze.  You become addicted to the chemicals associated with your current feeling state, and subconsciously resistant to changing them.

Mental Rehearsal – A Key to Setting Things Right

Fortunately, mental rehearsal cuts both ways.  If it controls you, you can get into big trouble.  But once you wake up to it, it becomes one of the most powerful tools you have for changing your own life.  We’ve touched on this before, when I mentioned Tibetan “Highest Yoga Tantra.”  Human beings are remarkable for the ability we have to create our own stimulus, to visualize events and states of being more vivid than our surroundings.  That means we don’t have to passively wait for events to change our thinking- we can get started on changing our neural processes and chemical environment right now.  It is this, in turn, that allows us to respond effectively when good things do manifest in our lives.  The more you refine your “programming” through mental rehearsal, the more you line up all the neurons on your side and the better you will execute the “program” in real-life situations.

The Catch – You Have to BELIEVE

But there’s a catch: you have to believe it, not just as a possibility, but as something that both can and will happen.  You see, we believe in the bad stuff.  We devote ourselves to accumulating evidence for the bad stuff.  It’s easy to believe that we’ll crash and burn.  It’s much more difficult to really believe that we’re going to succeed, and to accumulate evidence in our own favour.  We tend to self-program to build the case for the prosecution, and it takes willpower and attention to build the case for our own success.

As we rehearse the states and situations that we want for ourselves, we are actually changing not just our brains, but our bodies.  Research using brain scans to record these changes is now beginning, and we know that the body can be changed by thinking.  In one experiment, a group was told to think about a certain exercise for a given amount of time every day, and another group to actually do the exercise.  The group that thought about it actually showed significant muscle development compared with the control group.  Your body will begin to feel different, and as you continue to rehearse, the state of being you visualize will slowly move into the realm of nondeclarative memory, that is, the point of unconscious competence.  At that point, you will have changed what it is to be you!

Think about the qualities that define your ideal self.  Think of a role model whom you would want to emulate, and imagine what it would be like to be them.  At this stage, you are imagining what real contentment and happiness with your life feels like, and you are placing yourself in the middle of it.  You are practicing being happy, and re-wiring your brain to think about happiness differently.  By thinking about being happy, you generate the emotions associated with it, which in turn produce physical and chemical changes.  You have gone from thinking about happiness to doing happiness to being happy, and that is an incredible shift!

Next, take some of those qualities you listed.  Read about them, about people who exhibited them.  Think about some of the difficult situations in your life and how those people would react differently to them.  We have to consciously re-program our responses.

Now take one of the emotions associated with a negative event you have memorized.  Observe how it feels in your body.  Observe where that feeling is, its texture.  Observe what it does to your breathing, your posture.  Be with it and do not run away from it.  Then observe how that feeling causes you to think, what your attitude is, what that feeling does to you.  You have now brought it to the level where you can consciously deal with it, and there are a few ways to do that, which we will touch on in later posts.

For now, understand the power that comes with being able to control who you are and what influences you take in.  Consciously arresting negative rehearsal and instituting positive rehearsal can be a dramatic first step in creating the new you.

For a more detailed breakdown of how to use mental rehearsal to your advantage, I highly recommend Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.  You can watch Dr. Joe give you an introduction right here:

Take a Week to Test Yourself and WIN

One of the best ways to get yourself to peak performance and stay there is simply this:

…every so often, train just one thing really hard for a week.

This week, for example, I’m focussing on something very physical – strength training. In concrete terms, that means I’m going to double my usual “maintenance” regime and do one thousand push-ups and five hundred squats this week.

Naturally, that may mean some other physical training items take the week off, and that’s okay. The value of this type of focussed training far outweighs any potential downside.

I should emphasize that you can do this with ANY element of your usual training – your meditation, any aspect of your spiritual life, your interactions with others, etc. Your imagination’s the limit!

The next two weeks happen to be a fasting period in the Orthodox Church, and fasting periods have been used since ancient times for more demanding spiritual training. What most people don’t notice these days is that this “spiritual” training usually involved more physical work too. So it’s a nice coincidence for me.

Using a week to focus on a single aspect of training yourself (and PLEASE remember, every single thing you do IS training you for better or worse!) has some huge benefits:

  1. You improve dramatically in one area in a very short time (yeah, you may be a bit sore, but you’ll still be light years ahead at the end)
  2. You’ll often find it hard to go back to your usual regime once you discover what you’re really capable of
  3. You’ll feel dramatically better about yourself and what you can do when you put your mind to it.
  4. You’ll have lots more energy to burn and less stress to deal with

This kind of training gives you a victory over yourself and I can’t say often enough that in the world of self-transformation, you have to experience frequent victories. They’re vital to your progress and to your morale.

So why not pick something over the next few days and just do more of it than you’re doing now? Give yourself that victory you deserve. Take a week to test yourself and enjoy the benefits!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger

Want Inner Equilibrium? Go Outside!!

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I do every morning is head downstairs, throw open the patio door, go outside and BREATHE.

If you want energy for the first half of your day, just head outside first thing in the morning – the earlier the better – and take some deep breaths. I’ll tell you how in a moment.

Deep levels of inner peace and harmony are not just emotional states unrelated to your physical body and your place in the cosmos. They’re not just the result of attitudes and they can’t be produced simply by mind games, as some people are telling you.

This deep inner peace and harmony is the direct result of you inserting yourself in the currents of harmony that blow through all creation all around you at every moment. You want to feel these currents? Good. Then go outside first thing in the morning and to this:

1. Put your hands on your hips, bend forward keeping your back straight and exhale through your mouth, totally emptying all the stale air out of your lungs.

2. Return to an upright posture, inhaling through your nose. You’ll find you really don’t have to inhale – your lungs will fill up again automatically. Repeat steps 1 and 2 three times – don’t hyperventilate.

3. If the sun is up, feel its warmth on your skin and gently “breathe in” its warmth.

4. Do some light stretching, enjoying the crisp, clean air.

The early morning air is first of all the cleanest air of the day, if you live in a city as most of us do. It’s also thoroughly charged with Qi, according to Chinese medicine and ancient Taoist research. And that explains why parks throughout China and in Chinese communities abroad are often packed with people doing Tai Chi, Qi Gong or related exercises at dawn.

Of course, you can and should get outside anytime you can, especially to places where you can be in a more natural environment. I realize that can be tough if you work downtown in the concrete jungle. I’m very fortunate in that there are two sets of woods within walking distance of my house, woods thick enough that when you’re in them you can’t even see the rest of the city! It’s a great place to do Qi Gong.

Whenever you can go for walks through a park or even through your neighborhood, do it. Just follow your breath with your mind and bathe yourself in the harmony you feel. This will calm your mind, calm your nerves and, from a physical point of view, give you some natural vitamin D and fresh (non-recirculated) air.

As you pursue inner peace and harmony as goals in your life, you’ll find yourself spending more and more time outdoors. This is one addiction you don’t want to put off!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Putting "Strength in Your Belly"

“If there is no strength in your dantien, vices such as jealously, envy, anger, greed and distrust appear.”
~ Okado Torajiro

We could also add “stress”, “anxiety” and “fear” to the list.

Everything I’ve shared with you over the past week has been to prepare you for today.

If you’ve been practicing this stuff daily you can’t help but feel a whole lot better. That would be impossible. Our problem these days is that nobody will practice anything consistently and diligently. Instead, they just dabble, and dabblers don’t get results in any area of life.

Okay, so we’ve already talked about your breathing and how you need to learn Normal Abdominal Breathing in order to stop creating stress accidentally.

When you’re practicing this kind of breathing during meditation, you want to bring your breath down into your “lower dantien”. Dantien means “elixir field” and it’s your body’s main energy storage area just below your navel. This will help you to put strength into your dantien, as Torajiro says above.

It’s easy to feel the breath filling the dantien because your abdomen is actually expanding as you inhale.

We’ve also talked about how you can learn to integrate your mind, breath and physical movements into one. The next part of that equation is to learn to move from the dantien. In other words, you should feel every movement you make coming from the dantien, as if it moves a nano second before the rest of your body.

That kind of movement may seems strange to you, but keep in mind that all of Tai Chi (and other internal martial arts) and most of Qi Gong are performed just this way.

Go “play” with these approaches and you’ll soon experience a world of difference!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger
Disclaimer: This material is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition, nor toreplace the advice of qualified medical practitioners. You should not engage in any of the exercises suggested here without consulting your physician, particularly if you have anychronic medical issues or have reason to suspect these exercises could cause injury to you. If you are pregnant or think you might be, do not attempt any of these breathing or movement exercises without the express permission of your medical doctor and a licensed practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The ONE Thing I Want You to Really "Get"

Okay. I’ve spent the last few days giving you some concrete strategies for greatly increasing your sense of inner peace and harmony.

And, from what I’ve been hearing, that’s really helped you.

My real purpose, though, my “hidden agenda”, has been something a little different:

I’ve been trying to get you to engage your life in a different way, to sense a new possibility within yourself by rebuilding your lost mind-body connection.

Authentic Ancient Traditions all over the world have done this for millennia, with amazing results. The Taoists have called this overall process “self-cultivation” or “self-refinement”.


Look at it this way: your mind-body organism is meant to function in a certain way. When you use it in the proper way, it naturally stays healthy and functions optimally, so you’re physically healthy, emotionally happy and “in the zone”.

When you abuse your organism through your thoughts, your emotions, your diet, your physical movement (or lack thereof), you suffer the consequences.

Millennia of research have gone into figuring this out all over the world. Contrary to the modern “religious” idea that everything comes down to what you BELIEVE, ancient traditions knew – and still know – that the mind and body are interdependent.

They realized that if your energy or Qi (to use the Chinese medical term) is weak, dispersed or blocked, then your thought processes will be effected too. So you don’t have a hope in hell of governing your thoughts and emotions if you ignore your body.

The process of “combining energy and spirit” is a miraculous tool to help you enter into a whole new world, the world of self-refinement.

In the world of self-refinement, we do what makes us stronger. In the mundane world of the everyday, people do what makes them feel better (get pleasure and avoid pain) in the short term.

There’s only one small problem with the latter – it leads to weakness, illness and death. Self-refinement leads to the reverse, and that’s why the Taoists called it that path of “reversal” – reversing all the damage you’ve done to yourself up till now 😉

When you seriously apply “combining energy and spirit” during your meditation, prayer and as you go through your day, several things start to happen…

  • You learn to separate your SELF from your THOUGHTS, which is the key to spiritual development. And it happens naturally, without special effort.
  • Your thoughts and emotions quiet down; you become peaceful and tranquil
  • Energy (Qi) starts to build up in your lower “dantien” – the area below the navel, which is your body’s main energy storage area
  • This clears out blockages in your energy system, so you naturally experience much improved health and immunity
  • Your central nervous system switches over from the stressful “sympathetic” circuit to the tranquil “parasympathetic” circuit more frequently and, eventually, at your command
  • As you pay attention to your breathing and your bodily structure, you start to experience not just levels of harmony I can’t describe, but also physical processes you never noticed before, trapped tensions and traumas you can release, the presence of energy fields around you, and more.
  • As you learn to keep your energy flow even and undisturbed, you become very sensitive to anything that has an impact on it – among highly developed people this could include even events you wouldn’t normally notice, like someone walking on your shadow, the presence nearby of someone you can’t see or the influence of stars and planets.
  • You start to rely on your intuition more and it gets a lot more accurate
  • You experience increased mental capacity and improved memory
  • Warmth and love toward everyone and everything starts to flow through you almost automatically

    Self-refinement is the key to everything I’ve been teaching you. Now I’ve given you the key to the door. No one can go through that door for you – you’ve got to do it yourself 😉

    Consider that my challenge to you!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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