Breaking the Cycle


Monsters in my closet, oh my!

We are all masters of illusion

In order to understand the basis for living life in freedom and clarity–let’s call this Waking Up,–you have to choose to pay close attention to the games you play. Most people find this task daunting.

A friend was describing a box in her house–it contained her divorce papers and files. She thought this box was, well, “bad.” Then, she woke up:

You know … its all so weird when I think about it. I had all this attachment to the “stuff” in the box — and the box itself took on this meaning (of what I’m not sure.)
Until one day — I decided not to have an attachment — then it becomes a simple box once again — with papers in it. Its like it is “so real” when you are in the moment of attaching emotion to the “stuff” and then its so real when I decide not to attach anything to the box and its belongings. Its so real …

I replied by talking briefly about closet monsters. My point was simple. Many kids scare themselves over a pile of clothes in the closet, as they see it late at night. They are convinced that the monster is both real and threatening. Adults see a pile of clothes.

How does this fit?

Well, my friend’s “bad” carton was never anything other than a box of papers. That she thought it was something other did not, ever, make it so. As she woke up to this fact, she could drop the story she was telling herself (the monster in the closet!) and see box and papers.

Conflict offers a choice. I can see the games I am playing, or I can demonize the other person.

Let’s explore this process.

In last week’s article, I wrote:

Now, about you

The more interesting question, for me, is “Why am I setting myself off over this, and what about me am I not accepting?” You are not set off by things. I hope this is obvious to you by now, even if part of you still wants to blame someone.

Pretty much every therapist works off of the same Communication Model, and we modify it as it fits our needs. The model we use is equivalent to “The Haven Model” (clicking the link gets you a pdf file of the key principles taught by The Haven.) Rather than do a “re-draw,” here’s the model they use.

The Haven Institute ( Authorship of Models 1992 — Wong and McKeen. Permission is granted by the The Haven Institute
(the Owner) to reproduce, adapt and present this work for any private use provided always that any such reproduction, adaptation or presentation shall include this statement. All other rights reserved.

You’ll notice that this model is presented as circular. This was done 10 years ago or so to indicate you can enter the pattern anywhere. I actually believe it’s a bit more linear than that. I categorize stuff similarly to the above model, though.

Here’s my version, with notes!

Phase 1 — Data

Perception — six senses (Buddhist)

I see, hear, touch, taste, smell,

AND create mental formations

This should be obvious, but as an experiment, dredge up a sensual memory involving someone you like or love. Make it a full and rich imagining, and monitor the reaction in your body. That was the perception of a mental formation.

Phase 2 — Bodily Feeling

Feelings are always and ONLY located in the body–

thus the word “FEELing”

Positive: open, warm, attracted, move toward, relaxed, comfortable

Negative: closed, cold, repulsed, move away, tight, uncomfortable

Notice that perception leads to feeling. It CAN work the other way, too. For example, I monitor my neck and stomach for tightness. If I find it, I look outside and inside for the DATA I was not noticing. Example: I might be focussed on a book at a doctor’s office, and suddenly feel tight. I listen, and head a baby crying. My body “heard” what my my sense consciousness was attempting to “block.”

Waking Up

Who is perceiving, who is feeling?”

Waking Up is the essence of Zen

(This opportunity will continue to appear–call it a “choice point.”)

OK, here’s the good stuff. In Zen our goal is to Wake Up, or to notice what is going on. Paying attention allows us to bring the focus from drama to curiosity.

  • Drama: blaming the other for something going on inside of me.
  • Curiosity: “I see your eyes are red, (perception) and I notice I am uncomfortable (feeling). I am curious as to what is up for you.”
    Notice that this step has the potential to bypass the next Phase.

Phase 3 — Interpretation

This is TOTALLY, ALWAYS, and ONLY about you!

I think, interpret, judge, assume, imagine,

The story I am telling myself…”

Never: “I feel that…”

If you miss the opportunity, above, to “Wake Up,” this is what comes next. Now, admittedly, I actually think we interpret all the time, even when we take the first “Wake Up” opportunity, above. We simply can’t help ourselves–our egos have been conditioned to do this, since birth.

That being said, the key at this stage is to notice.

Notice what, you ask? Notice how your ego want to make what is happening external to you and your process. If you choose to notice what you are doing (your process of interpreting) you have, wait for it–a choice point!

Waking Up

Who is perceiving, who is feeling, who is interpreting?”

Waking Up is still the essence of Zen

(This block will continue to appear–call it a “choice point.”)

Drama: (seeing red eyes and feeling discomfort) “What the hell did I do now? You’re always mad at me and blaming me.”

Curiosity: “I see your eyes are red, (perception) I notice I am uncomfortable, (feeling) and the story I am telling myself is that you are angry at me. (interpretation)

I am curious as to what is up for you.”

The last 2 follow the Haven pattern:

Phase 4 — Intention

The Reporting Stage

Here is what I will do, not do, etc.

Phase 5 — Action



If you say one thing and do another you are a LIAR!

No excuses here. Integrity is all about following through on what you say. If you are not sure what you are going to do, do not lie about it and promise something just for the sake of promising. Say what you will do, then do it.

OK. How does this play out?

Needless to say, we are all about Waking Up, and Waking Up requires 100% acceptance of one thing–what is happening inside of you, from head to toes, is you–is caused by you. (Normal caveat: this precludes violence. The only way another can affect you is if they touch you.)

There are no exceptions to this! No one “Makes you feel” anything. What comes up for you, your stories, interpretations, even your feelings (you make you tight, for example) are yours.

Blaming another for your experience is foolish and childish. It’s seeing monsters in the closet.

The monster was never in the closet. The monster was in the head of the child, then projected outward onto a pile of clothes.

Practice Curiosity and “I” language.

Next week, we’ll wrap this series up with a discussion of using self disclosure, I language and curiosity to

  1. learn more of your partner
  2. learn about your own patterns, fears and desires, and to confront and banish the monster in your closet (those things your fear or dislike about yourself.)
Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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