Ask anyone; the happiest moments of one’s life are the moment when we find ourselves in our vertical self… or at least centered and grounded in the bottom of it.
It doesn’t happen a lot, because we are brought up and encouraged to live in our horizontal being.
The horizontal and the vertical being
The horizontal being is wholly defined by triggers: triggers from others, demands on us, what we are supposed to do, what’s happening to us, threats and such.
The experience of living in our horizontal being is hurry, rush, catching up, doing what was imposed on us, pleasing others, fitting in, preparing for some future, dreading some past.
In our horizontal being, even to get present takes minutes of effort, calming down, pulling all the strings back, pulling all our power back.
I have been living in my vertical being for some time, but recently, due to an outside stressor, I have lost it. I moved to my horizontal being: reactive, jerked around, fixing, resisting… not pretty. Even my vibration dropped 30 points… because of it.
Now, when you know how to accept, how to allow, how to observe without judgment, it is easier to step back, and see reactivity for what it is: a vertical plane natural behavior.
On the horizontal plane everything appears to be wrong, missing, lacking, irritating, and all the adjectives we use in a normal day.
The normal “response” to it is resistance and trying to avoid, or trying to fix… whichever seems more appropriate in the moment.
No peace, no center, no joy, just catching up, hurry, rush, doing what we are supposed to do… begrudgingly, or avoiding it.
The mind and the ego… only have power on the horizontal plane
All our thoughts are about the future or the past, looking good and making it. Mind, ego, only live on the horizontal plane, in the horizontal self.
The vertical plane: heaven on earth
There is no past and there is no future on the vertical plane, there is only now. No comparison, no lacking, no rush, no shoulds, just being.
The brain functions normally, except the part of the brain that is volitional, intentional, thinking for a purpose, not the automatic thought machine or the mind.
Raising your consciousness is living more and more of the time in your vertical self.
Andy Shaw’s book teaches you to become aware or how you are in your life. It brings most of the many ways of being that belong to the horizontal self, and asking you to observe yourself being there, without judgment, without trying to change.
When you bring awareness to life, life changes without you trying to change it.
If it doesn’t… then you did not bring awareness, most likely you brought judgment to it. Or denial. Or avoidance.
Here is another “law” from Dan Millman’s book, this one is the Law of Flexibility. I would prefer to call it the Law of Acceptance, or the Law of Allowing… but it’s not my book…
The Law of Flexibility
Flexibility avails us far more than either passivity or resistance; by actively using whatever arises, embracing even the most painful circumstances, we deal with our difficulties more effectively, as we begin to see them as a form of spiritual training.
Always fall in with what you’re asked to accept Fall in with it and turn it your way ROBERT FROST
Flexibility involves a pragmatic acceptance of, rather than rigid resistance toward, the present moment—acceptance of ourselves, others, and current circumstances. This does not in any way imply passive toleration for what we don’t like, nor does it mean ignoring injustice or allowing ourselves to be victimized. Flexibility requires an alert and expansive state of awareness; it entails not just “going with the flow,” but embracing and making constructive use of it. Mastering this law, we turn stumbling blocks into stepping-stones and problems into opportunities; when high winds blow, we don’t just “accept” or tolerate these winds, we put up windmills.
The Law of Flexibility may appear unrealistic and idealistic at first, bringing up a variety of questions, such as, “What if we’re attacked on the street, or a tragedy happens to a loved one? How do we ’embrace’ that?” Such questions are fair and important, but the answer comes down to this: Great pleasures and great pain and injustice exist in this world. When something painful happens to a group of people, some of these people mentally resist the experience, in total shock, denial, and fear; they suffer the worst, like the tree with rigid branches that break in the wind.
Others in the group of people have developed the ability to bend, to accept and experience the situation fully, while keeping in touch with the bigger picture of life — with a sense of perspective about how things are. They accept their emotions and express them fully, but like the branch that bends, they do not break but snap back.
Without mental rigidity or resistance, they can respond in the most effective, creative way. In flexibility lies great strength. With flexibility, we learn to treat sun and rain, heat and cold, as equals. We experience life as less painful, less of a struggle, by responding rather than resisting; we treat pain as a test and make the best use of it we can, if only to learn.
If you don’t like the way I drive, get off the sidewalk!
I once saw a humorous bumper sticker that exemplified the Law of Flexibility. It read, “If you don’t like the way I drive, get off the sidewalk!” If someone is driving right toward us on the sidewalk of life, instead of thinking, “They shouldn’t be doing this; it isn’t fair; it isn’t right,” while the car careens toward us, we can apply the Law of Flexibility and simply jump out of the way, grateful for the chance to test our reflexes.
The martial arts of aikido and tai chi, which reflect and embody the Law of Flexibility, are founded upon nonresistance: When pushed, pull; when pulled, push; and when a force comes toward you, get out of the way. Everything serves our highest good if we make good use of it.
When we view life only from the personal viewpoint of our conventional minds, we certainly won’t always feel “grateful” for some events, such as financial setbacks or catching the flu. This law, however, reminds us to expand our vision beyond ourselves to see the bigger picture so we can better appreciate that every circumstance, whether it appears positive or negative to us at the time, serves as an opportunity to strengthen our spirit. Stress happens whenever the mind resists what arises in life — whether situations, people, or emotions. Phrases like “I’d rather be” or “They should (or shouldn’t) be” reflect our resistance to what is. By seeing everything we meet as a potential lesson that may, in the long run, make us stronger, wiser, or more whole, we get past expectations or judgments about what is and embrace life.
Life may not always be fair from the viewpoint of the limited mind, but from a much larger perspective, spiritual laws still hold true. Flexibility involves developing the attitude “Okay, here’s where I am and who I am. do the best I can with the situation.” Just as opportunities also contain problems, even- problem brings an opportunity.
The Serenity Prayer used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs reflects the Law of Flexibility: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Flexibility enables us to enjoy situations that might once have troubled us, such as changes in fortunes or the ending of relationships. Sometimes flexibility means staying aware of both sides of issues or events but focusing on the more positive side of any difficulty. For example, as painful as the breakup of a relationship may be, it opens up the space for new opportunity, new love.
Cats are masters of the Law of Flexibility: When a cat wants to walk out the door but someone is blocking its way, it tries to go one way, then another, and then another; it is persistent, but it also knows when to sit back, relax, and wait for another opportunity. Like cats, we don’t have to waste energy resisting or fretting over circumstances we can’t avoid.
Flexibility means total and unconditional acceptance of who we are, whom we’re with, and what we’re doing in this moment, even as we learn and grow and effectively handle what’s in front of us. This may require a shift in attitude, not necessarily a shift in behavior. If we catch ourselves criticizing others or calling them names, it also means accepting and forgiving ourselves on the spot for our mistakes.
Flexibility means staying adaptable; like water, we take the shape of our “container” — the present moment. We open to life at whatever level we can.
The Law of Flexibility parallels the Law of Perfection (p. 358) but with slightly different emphasis and purpose. By practicing the Law of Flexibility, we stay open to experiencing rather than avoiding the highs and lows. We live more fully.
We can apply flexibility to our work, our relationships, or any other aspect of everyday life. Free of resistance, we learn the art of unreasonable happiness. Master this law, and we’ve mastered them all.
The following exercises can help you achieve alignment with the Law of Flexibility through direct experience and application.
This partner exercise gives a physical experience of acceptance as it applies to the highest martial arts, as well as to any situation in daily life.
1. Stand naturally, with your feet shoulder width apart, and hold one arm out in front of you. Have your partner take your wrist or forearm and smoothly pull you forward, as if he or she wanted you to go somewhere.
As your partner pulls, take one step forward to maintain your balance and resist (pull against) the pull of your partner. Experience what this feels like physically and emotionally.
3. Now, have your partner pull once again, but this time, just as your partner begins to pull, while maintaining your balance, take two steps forward and gently push your partner in the direction he or she was pulling. In other words, instead of resisting the force, join it make it yours. Experience what this feels like physically and emotionally. This time, you didn’t accept your partner’s pull in the sense of resigned submission or passive toleration, and you didn’t actively work against it; rather, you made use of it.
4. After allowing your partner to be in the other role, compare your experiences.
Applying the Law of Flexibility
1. Think of a situation or incident that you tend to fight or resist.
2. Consider how you might apply flexibility to embrace and flow with the forces of your life.
3. Notice whenever you tend to contract, tense, resist, pull back, freeze up, or fight when dealing with this situation or incident. Ask yourself, “What if I actively went with the force and made it mine?”
I am encouraged by the response to the “Are you nice” article, so let’s see if you will participate here:
Would you let me know, in the comments, below, all the ways the horizontal plane is holding you by the throat, jerking you around, telling you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, who to please, what to do to survive this life? Please? Thank you.