Entries by Martha Beck

All for All, Always

Task Seven: Notice that you are all for all, always. We’ve arrived at the final task in our newsletter series based on my new book, Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening. The Seventh Task in becoming your wild self is the ultimate act of spiritual surrender, in which you completely release your identification with what I call your “meat self”, that sense of individuality and “me-ness” that has defined you throughout your life. So, why not do that now? Take a deep breath, and just let go of your ego forever. Take a few moments, if you need them. I’ll wait. Obviously I’m kidding, though kudos to any of you who just achieved spontaneous enlightenment through the sheer power of suggestion. The Seventh Task represents the end of all suffering, which makes it the Big Banana, spiritually speaking. It’s what generations of mystics and yogis dedicated their lives to seeking, […]

Put Your Mind in Service to Your Higher Self…and Other Wisdom From Martha Beck

Task Six: Let Your Meta-Self Flow Through You Task Hello, beloved readers! If you’ve been following along—or if you’ve read my recent book, which is finally out and about in the world—you know it’s time to learn the Sixth Task of Bewilderment (pronounced “be-wilder-ment”). It’s all part of the process of waking up to your inner, deeper, higher purpose. Task Six is about learning to let inspiration flow not only through your limbs and heart, but also through your brain. This delicate operation can’t work well if you haven’t mastered at least the rudiments of earlier Tasks, particularly Task One, which is to calm yourself out of fear. Most people tune into fear and use their thinking as a control mechanism, trying to access good feelings and avoid bad ones. This approach can be quite effective. It can get your taxes filed, your children educated, and your ordinary work done. But it’s sort of like […]

Lame Animal Totem: Bony-eared Assfish

There is a creature swimming our oceans that is called Acanthonus armatus. But, perhaps because Acanthonus has the smallest brain-to-body weight ratio of any vertebrate, it prefers to go by its more familiar name, the bony-eared assfish. I did not make that up. You can know that Acanthonus armatus is your animal totem if you’re swimming around subtropical waters and you hear yourself call out, “Whoa, Mabel! Get a load of the bony ears on that ass fish!” Listen: fish don’t have ears, and you don’t know anyone named Mabel. Now, I know that if the bony-eared assfish is your totem, you’re already having trouble following this, so just lie still and try not to think.

Make Language Your Servant…and Other Wisdom From Martha Beck

When you look in the mirror, you don’t see what the rest of us recognize as your face. You see all your small asymmetries—the freckle on your left cheek, your crooked smile, the part of your hair—reversed. When you think about yourself, this quirk of perception is much more dramatic, because as Byron Katie says, “Like a mir­ror, the mind has a way of getting things right but backwards.” Katie fans (including all MBI coaches) spend a lot of time noticing this reversal of the real, and flipping our thoughts to discover the truth. This is what I’m calling the Fifth Task of Bewilderment. It’s a way of making language our servant, not our master, as we wend our way toward the truths that set us free. If you’ve never heard of this Task, but you’re sick of misery, I urge you to learn it and use it, soon and […]

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Even though Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my very favorite writers, it took me a long time to read her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. The reason is that when I read about creativity, or when I read Gilbert’s work, I get so motivated I have trouble sleeping. I’m talking for weeks at a time. Liz Gilbert writing about creativity? Frankly, I found that a little scary. Then, last week, I went to the Arctic in search of the aurora borealis (also called the Northern Lights, and definitely something you should put on your bucket list). Since the lights are most likely to show up between midnight and 4:00 AM, a little insomnia was in order.  So I read Big Magic between excursions into the arctic cold, and I got wired like a fox terrier on cocaine, jet-propelled into every creative project I’ve got going. I read, I laughed, I marveled, I […]

Demolish Your Definition of Self and Other Wisdom from Martha Beck

The Fourth Task to Bewilderment: Follow Love This month we’ve reached the fourth of our Bewilderment Tasks! If you have no idea what this means, you’re already bewildered and may be excused—or read my last three newsletters,* which cover the first three Tasks. But if you’ve been following along, you know that Bewilderment is a re-awakening of the wild essential self, and that the Tasks are practices for encouraging this awakening. My favorite deceased Indian dude, Nisargadatta Maharaj, once said, “When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I look around and see that I am everything, that is love.” Task Four is about connecting with the world so intimately that you experience everything as your true self. As you practice the first three Tasks, you’ll be living more fearlessly, honestly, and fluidly. Now your wild side will begin pushing you—sometimes subtly, sometimes overwhelmingly—to […]

Let Yourself Be Moved and Other Wisdom from Martha Beck

The Third Task for Bewilderment: Let Yourself Be Moved Lately we’ve been discussing the Tasks of Bewilderment, a series of exercises designed to help you become your wild self. Task One is Calm Down. Task Two is Don’t Swallow Poison (anything, from a food to a belief, that makes you ill). If you’ve mastered these two tasks, your life is already better than most. People often protest, “But if I’m not acting out of fear and obligation, I’ll just sit around licking butter right off the dish.” Actually, once fear and poison are out of our energy, we begin to move like Luke Skywalker trusting the Force. Enlightened people say they watch as some benevolent energy does things, efficiently and effectively, through their bodies. Learning to let yourself be moved this way is the Third Task for Bewilderment. To practice, take 10 minutes to sit or lie down. Relax completely, […]

Lame Animal Totem: Lungfish

The lungfish is an African creature with awesome skills. In dry times it digs into the mud, encases itself in a hardened mucous shell, and lowers its metabolism to  almost nothing. It can stay that way for up to four years, reviving and emerging when rain finally arrives. Occasionally people make bricks out of the mud, and on rainy nights newly-awakened lungfish start slithering out of their walls. Altogether charming! Use Lungfish’s spiritual essence to help you spend most of your time totally lacking in ambition or motivation, thrashing around at rare intervals just barely enough to survive. Lungfish energy will help you encase yourself during your periods of lethargy, though instead of hardened mucous, your “shell” will be made of emotional numbness, or possibly aluminum foil. Call on Lungfish to help you pop out of nowhere into the lives of long-lost lovers and childhood friends, shouting, “Hi! I’m here […]

Mirror, Mirror: The Power of Perseveration

I have the most fabulous conversations when I’m alone. Driving, exercising, flossing my teeth, I offer opinions and advice that would change the world, if only the people I’m talking to were actually there. One day I’ll laser-focus on a particular client, telling her exactly how to dump her awful boyfriend and develop some self-esteem. The next day I’ll masterfully elucidate how a friend should raise his children, or help the president better handle the media. So great are my powers of persuasion that I can go back in time, intercept Virginia Woolf as she heads out to drown herself, and help her resolve her issues so she wants to live, live, live! Also make her subsequent novels a little less weird! I think most people engage in this sort of mono mano a mano from time to time. I’ve spent countless hours listening to clients explain what a loved […]

The Next Step to Bewilderment…And Other Wisdom from Martha

Bewilderment Lesson 2: Don’t Swallow Poison Last month I invited you to join me in a process I call bewilderment (the effort to be wilder) with a series of simple steps. The first of these, as we saw, is CALM DOWN. The second—my New Year’s resolution for 2016—is DON’T SWALLOW POISON. If you take these first two steps, virtually all the wondrous, magical, fulfilling things you’ve ever hoped for will finally reach you. Yet, of the thousands of folks I’ve coached, only a tiny percentage will even experiment with Step Two. By “Don’t Swallow Poison” I mean refusing to internalize anything that causes pain, sickness, or extreme distress. We do this pretty well when it comes to food. When I was about five I had stomach flu after eating a lime Popsicle. I’ve never eaten a lime Popsicle since.  Avoidance of nausea is one of the most powerful responses we possess. It’s […]