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Talk Given by Mary Ennis at the Brattleboro, Vermont Group Session

Sunday, October 23, 2005

MARY: In this talk I’ll tell you what my experience has been, but I actually welcome feedback or input or whatever. It’s been a very interesting 14 days! It all started with Polly, my dog, paying attention to her and noticing different behaviors and things.

I started — which Frank/X-tian is taking total credit for — I started watching “The Dog Whisperer,” on the National Geographic Channel. Actually, it wasn’t Frank’s credit — my DVD player broke and I had to watch TV! Anyway, it was really fascinating and I was amazed at the things Cesar Millan was saying. He’s not a dog trainer. He has a dog psychology center in Los Angeles and his motto is he rehabilitates dogs and he trains people. Which is a good thing, because it’s the people who need to be trained. I was trying to apply different things with Polly and really not understanding what was going on with her.

Now mind you, I’ve been interacting with her in the same way for the last two and a half years, ever since I got her. I don’t think her behavior started to kick in until she was about a year old. Then she was a little older and things started to develop, but I didn’t notice. I really wasn’t paying attention and I didn’t notice at all. She was my baby.

Other people noticed and other people were saying things to me and were not really pleased with her behavior, but I wasn’t hearing it. It wasn’t until this year when my grandbabies were born that I started to notice something different.

GAIL: What was Polly’s behavior previous to that?

MARY: To me, it seemed normal. She was my baby and it seemed completely normal. She was bouncy, she was happy, she was sparky, and so I didn’t interpret anything. Then the babies came, and I started to notice that this bounciness was not really happy. It was kind of agitated, but she never went at the babies. She’s a little dog and she makes very fast jerky movements. She can move really fast. She can be on the floor and in a second she’s on the couch and in the baby’s face, wanting to be licking, licking, licking.

I started babysitting for my daughter Donnalie when she went back to work, and Polly started displaying different behaviors. I could tell she was upset and stressed out. She would throw up when we would go there, she peed on the floor, and she pooped on the floor once.

GAIL: What was her behavior to the children?

MARY: Just wanting to be next to them and lick them all the time. But that was becoming annoying to Donnalie, and also she would do this teeny little nippy-nippy thing on their fingers and their toes, but not biting...

GAIL: Not being aggressive.

MARY: Not biting but she would be doing this teeny, teeny little nippy-nippy-nippy, which Donnalie didn’t like, either, and I don’t blame her.

So I started to watch Cesar Millan and I’m starting to register different things. His main thing is it’s not the dog, it’s the person. You’re doing something that is creating this behavior in the dog.

LORRAINE M: Elias would say that too, wouldn’t he?

MARY: Probably. I didn’t even go there; I didn’t even think that yet. I started to pay attention to what I was doing — I thought I was, but I wasn’t. After a couple of weeks I was getting really frustrated, and I told Lynda and Donnalie that this has something to do with me only I don’t know what it is I’m doing. Maybe I was too close to the situation. I kept thinking, thinking, thinking, and I just didn’t understand. I didn’t know what to stop doing because I didn’t know what I was doing.

I finally called Dr. Speck, my vet, and he’s very knowledgeable. He’s the official vet of the Iditarod dogs every year in Alaska. He listened to what I was describing and recommended someone that he knows very well. Dr. Milani ... how weird is that? I’m watching Cesar Millan! She follows very closely to the same things that he does. Dr. Milani is a vet and has two degrees and specializes in dog and animal behavior. She’s very comprehensive and thorough. She follows up for eight weeks and sends the vet a comprehensive report for his file.

So I called her, and she was really wonderful. She spent like 40 minutes on the phone with me initially and then we set up a consultation. I told her I thought that this was a jealousy thing and so did my daughter. We went to the consultation, and right off the bat she said this is not a jealousy thing, not at all. That’s not what was going on with Polly.

She told me to put Polly on the floor and not pay attention to her, not make eye contact with her, not even pay attention that she was in the room for the whole time that we were there, two and a half hours. For me to ignore this dog for two and a half hours was just like murder. It was hard. She does this little “uppy-uppy” thing. It’s cutesy — or we interpret it as cutesy — and my immediate response is to pick her up. So Polly’s on the floor, and Dr. Milani observed Polly and me. I was pretty tense for the first hour. I wasn’t making eye contact with Polly but I was noticing everything she was doing. She was doing uppy-uppy, pick me up, running around in circles, whining, crying. She was obviously upset. When I wouldn’t respond to her, she tried it once with Dr. Milani. When that didn’t work, she went over to Donnalie and tried to get her attention.

It was a fascinating experience. It was very difficult. Dr. Milani had a lot of information, and she must have asked me a hundred questions. Every single one I had to answer “yes” to. Does Polly do this, does Polly do that, and every one I had to say yes to.

By the end of the question-answer part I was pretty much feeling like crap. I felt really upset, like I was the worst mother in the world. I felt like the doggy social service should come and take her away from me because I’m so bad! (Laughter) It was as if I was doing everything wrong. Dr. Milani’s very direct and she doesn’t pull any punches. She’s not mean, she’s very compassionate, but she’s also very direct. She looked at me and said, “Yes, pretty much you’ve been doing everything wrong,” and I just wanted to turn into a puddle. Because everybody that has been around me with this dog knows I adore her; I just love her to death. She’s so important to me.

There’s the bad news, that I’m the worst mom on the planet. How did this happen? What is she feeling? What is she experiencing? What is wrong with her? How did this happen and what can I do about it?

Dr. Milani told me what is Polly is experiencing. Imagine yourself in a room with twenty children and there’s a raging war outside. Bombs are going off everywhere. Somebody comes to the door and it’s this huge man and he’s mean and awful looking and he’s pointing an enormous gun in the door. You’re standing there and five of these little children race to the door. What are you going to do? You’re going to grab those children and throw them behind you. You’re going to stand in front of them and protect them from that threat. This is where Polly lives 24/7. She’s not jealous; she’s stressed! She feels that she has to be in total control all the time, and she sees us, all of us, like those children. She doesn’t trust that I can be the leader.

I didn’t understand why. What would make her feel that way? Dr. Milani said she’s a dog and you’re a person. You’re misinterpreting her language one hundred percent. What she is doing and has been doing all along is telling you what to do and you respond. Every time you do that, that sends a message to her that you can’t be trusted to take care of yourself because you’re always responding to her commands. The more she commands, the more she needs to be in control because she doesn’t see you as being in control or the leader. When we started this program, we all started to notice how many times in a day she does things that send a command that we never even would have thought of. Open the door, close the door...

Dr. Milani asked that if Polly has to go out, does she come and whine at you, and you get up, go to the door and let her out? In MY brain, that’s what you want a dog to do, to let you know when they want out. But she has a dog door and she knows how to use it. Why do I open the door for her? If she has to go out, she has the ability to go out by herself. But she whines at me, I drop what I’m doing and open the door for her.

If I’m on the computer and she wants up or whines at me or leans on me, what do I do? If I’m writing to someone, I write I have to go now, Polly’s wanting me to play with her, and I get off the computer and pick her up and play with her. If I’m watching TV or whatever, she grabs a toy and throws it at me, and what do I do? I get on the floor, I pick up the toy and I play with her. When I throw the toy, does she bring it back to me? No. She brings it back, but then she runs away with it and we play keep-away.

Dr. Milani said she’s not playing keep-away, that’s another way to say I’m in control, not you. And I started to notice these things that I do, little tiny things, without ever thinking about it all day long, every single day. That was the introduction, then we started with the program.

She gave us three exercises to do. The first one was, has been and to an extent still is the hardest one. Every time somebody comes into the house, we cannot acknowledge Polly until she calms down and lays down. I have to thank all of you for cooperating with that this weekend, because I was a nervous wreck about it. I was only on day 11, and I wasn’t sure if we were going to have a big huge setback. This is not training. This is modifying my actions so that she feels safe, not having to be in control all the time, not having to be on patrol all the time, so that she can just be a dog and be in a normal calm state of mind.

We started the next day; it was a nightmare. Lynda was at home and every time she would come downstairs just to hook-up and have a cigarette or whatever, every single time that happened we had to go through the whole thing over and over and over again. Lynda comes in the door and we have to not respond. It must have taken Polly almost an hour to calm down. It started to get a little bit less, but it took a long time each time that day, a long time where she was still agitated, barking, running around.

It took her almost an hour each time to get to a space where she was calm enough to lay down, then we were the ones who were supposed to initiate going to her. We’re not supposed to let her do the initiating because she has to know she doesn’t have to be in control. We would then initiate going to her and picking her up, and then we could play or whatever.

You can imagine going through this all day long, being aware of your own energy every single minute of the day. Even when we weren’t doing those parts when we were dealing with someone coming in and the dog spazzing out and the whole time she’s going nuts, we were supposed to be checking our energy and making sure that it was calm. In between times, I was checking in with my energy constantly that I was not getting agitated or upset or responding when she’s doing one of her normal behaviors.

GAIL: So you’re not supposed to respond to those commands?

MARY: Right. By the end of the day after so intensely paying attention every minute to where my energy was and where her energy was and where everybody else’s energy was all around me, I was a puddle. I just collapsed on that couch and cried.

GAIL: You were probably just exhausted.

MARY: It is exhausting. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting and it’s really unfamiliar. The next day, Monday, I was like I’ll be really glad when we’re through this and I can feel normal again, because I don’t feel normal! I really didn’t. I took Polly to the groomer and dropped her off for two hours, and I as soon as I dropped her off, it was like oh my god, I can breathe! I can be on autopilot now! I don’t have to pay attention for two hours! It was the weirdest feeling. When I picked her up, I went right back into mode.

I started to realize the reason I don’t feel normal is that I’m not used to paying attention to myself this intensely every single minute of the day. I have to be aware of everything that’s going on around me and so aware of my energy and her energy and everybody else’s that comes into my atmosphere, whether it’s at the video store or Walmart or the post office or wherever. It’s like constant awareness. I used to think that I was pretty present. I used to think that I was pretty aware of myself and in the day and pretty aware of what I was doing. Not even close! An experience like this is incredible.

The first three days were really, really difficult. During those first days she started chewing on her feet, and that is a classic nervous thing for dogs. So I flipped and I didn’t know if I could do it. I could tell she was confused. I called and then wrote an email to Dr. Milani because I was such a frazzle, which she didn’t respond to because the power kept going on and off. I didn’t get a response from her until the end of Monday, which was a good thing because I figured it out myself.

I thought maybe I’m misinterpreting what’s going on here. Maybe she’s not confused at all. Maybe she’s bouncing off my energy and I was so stressed out that she started chewing her feet. I don’t think Polly was confused. She was just bouncing off of me. I was upset, so she was upset. Dr. Milani wrote me a great email, very encouraging, that this is it, you’re figuring out that you are doing it. You are putting yourself in the leader role and it will work.

What I’ve noticed in this whole process, first of all, is how difficult it is to be that present and aware of yourself in every minute and aware of everything around you and how you’re responding to everything. I also noticed that Polly responds to my energy in every single fluctuation of it.

I was on the computer around day four or five and I opened an email. It was a forward from somebody and I went “eh” for a split second. I would never have noticed before that my energy had changed just for a split second. Then I was neutral. But I don’t like forwards, so my reaction was EH! Immediately, out of the corner of my eye, I see Polly get up, run across the room, grab one of her toys and grrr! Now, I didn’t look at her and I didn’t change anything. I was just noticing.

Then I opened the next email and it was from a client that cancelled her session because she was really sick. In the email she said, “I’m really sick. I really appreciate everything that you do, but I think I’m in the process of disengaging.” So same thing, just for a second I went “uhh!” I never made a noise, but that was what I felt and I noticed my energy change for that second. Polly had just been on the floor chomping on her toy. Then she jumped up in the chair, laid down backwards, put her little face up here and just looked at me. I was like, okay, that’s really weird.

I opened the next email and it was somebody requesting a session. I was completely neutral about that and nothing changed. I just forwarded it over to Lynda. Polly got off the chair, went into her little house and went to sleep. I was like this is so weird!

I never would have noticed these teensy little fluctuations in my energy at all, especially on the computer. I always kind of see myself on the computer as being in a zone where I’m not feeling or thinking anything. I never would have noticed her. I wouldn’t have caught that, that she was actually reacting. Even if I had caught a piece of it, like when she jumped on her toy, I wouldn’t have equated it. I wouldn’t have made the connection. It wouldn’t have registered with me at all. That was encouraging to me to pay more attention.

But it’s hard. It’s really, really hard to be that aware in every single minute of where your energy is, what it’s doing, how it’s moving, if it’s fluctuating, how you’re responding. Donnalie’s come over several times, and as soon as she’s here I’m aware of her energy and how I’m interacting with it, what I’m projecting, what I’m responding to in whatever she does. And out of the corner of my eye, I’m paying attention to Polly’s energy, what she’s doing and how she’s reacting to me or to Donnalie. It’s been really hard for Lynda, too. I totally acknowledge and appreciate Lynda’s and Donnalie’s participation in this whole thing because they’ve been very with the program and very supportive.

Another example of little tiny things that you don’t pay attention to that you would wind up doing 15 times a day is that Polly will come up to you and do the “uppy” thing and people just automatically pick her up. When she wants to get down, she stands up and gives you a body language of “put me down now.” It was hysterical — Lynda and I were out on the back porch having a smoke and she waited to pick Polly up until she was laying down and was calm. She had her on her lap and Polly saw something in the other yard and stood up. Lynda was talking to me, not even thinking about it, and started to put her down. In mid-air she realized and went “Oh!” and put her back on her lap. I started cracking up. That was a good retrieve, that was good noticing — Polly was demanding. That was a good example of how you don’t even think about it.

It’s so automatic. It’s such a little tiny thing but it has such a big effect, and I started to realize is that we all do this all the time. We all do things all day long, every single day, and Elias has talked about this a ton of times. I never really understood what he meant by these little tiny things that we do all day long, as small as opening or closing a door. These little tiny things are motivated by certain things, and you never even think about it and you do it all the time. After a while, those things that you’re doing every single day develop into something you don’t want, something you don’t like. I talk to people all the time, every day, who say I’m in this space, I’ve been here for a while and I don’t know how I got here. I don’t like being in this position, and how do I get out of it?

It really started to register with me. I don’t want my dog to be a neurotic mess and I don’t want to be dictated to by her. But I’ve been doing these behaviors and actions every single day for two and a half years and never knew it or paid attention or noticed. There are so many times when people are doing things that they don’t notice, but they are doing them over and over and over again every single day. Then something starts to develop that they’re not happy with and they don’t know how they got there or how to fix it or change it. I’ve been involved in this information and doing what I do for ten years, and now after ten years this little dog is teaching me what Elias has been saying all this time.

VERONICA: But don’t you have to go beyond that to say what beliefs are behind your automatic responses? What are you believing?

MARY: That she’s my little dog, that she’s helpless, that she’s my baby, and that I want her to be my baby. I’m peoplizing her like crazy. I’m interpreting her language through my language, which is completely different and wrong. What she’s communicating is completely different from what I’m translating it into, because I’m translating it through people language.

On Sunday, the first day, Lynda was kind of upset too because it was really hard. She did a session with Elias and he was talking to her about things that he’s talked to Cathy/Shynla about several times in the past, about peoplizing animals and how their language is very different but we translate it into our own.

If we’re really happy and really excited, we might get really bouncy and we might interact with another person in that way, be really excited and bouncy and whatever. When a dog does that, that’s not happy, that’s agitated. That’s out of control. That’s not an expression of happy with them because they’re not translating through emotions; we are. They don’t have emotions; they don’t need them. They live in the subjective. They don’t need an avenue to communicate from the subjective to the objective. They live there and so they don’t need emotion. They do have feelings but they translate them through action, because that’s their language.

VERONICA: Do they work on instinct?

MARY: Partially, partially not, especially with little dogs like this that have been bred for thousands of years to do nothing except be a companion. These kinds of dogs, like a Maltese, they don’t have a job. They’ve never been bred for a job. Their job is just to be a companion. They’re not always working on instinct because they’ve been bred to be totally keyed into us. That’s all they do.

VERONICA: So they’re somewhat peoplized, right?

MARY: They are somewhat, but they still don’t speak the same language as us. They have a different language, which we’re just now learning.

LORRAINE M: I think Elias has said that animals, specifically domesticated animals, kind of reflect us. We give them a lot of what they give us. What I was thinking is there has been nothing wrong at all with how you were interacting with that dog. There has been no problem.

Elias has been telling us to pay attention to what we do all day for 24 hours — that was in a recent group session — and people have a problem doing that. It is so hard to do. I believe — and this is just my belief — what happened is you created the problem with the dog two weeks ago. It never existed before that.

MARY: Oh no, I do believe it existed before that, but I do believe I created it...

LORRAINE M: ...for that reason, so that you could experience that and it would be part of your talk with us.

MARY: I totally agree with you! But I don’t believe that I created it just two weeks ago. I’ve been creating it for the last two and a half years.

LORRAINE M: But you’ve had no problem with the dog for two and a half years!

MARY: Everybody around me did!

LORRAINE M: I’m talking about you.

MARY: I know, but that’s the point. I’m interacting with other people and other people are reflecting to me. Everyone around me had a problem with her, that she was an annoying little football-dog that they wanted to strangle and that she was very demanding.

LORRAINE M: They were just jealous.

LYNDA: I’m the only one who didn’t have a problem with the dog. I’m with Mary one hundred percent. I was an enabler.

MARY: Actually Lynda was even more not noticing than me. We had to have a talk about six months ago, that Polly can’t take her shoes off, she can’t pull her socks off anymore because there are babies coming.

And everybody that Polly would interact with, they were coming at me. I was creating that. I was creating that reflection and they were bitching at me. They were like you need to knock it off — get a grip with this dog! But I wasn’t getting it yet, I wasn’t understanding what I was reflecting, and it took a while for me to get it.

I also realized that the reason that I created this was so that I would have a strong enough motivation to stick with paying attention to myself because it is so hard, because it is so unfamiliar. By the end of the first day I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to do it anymore. It was very, very hard for me to keep it up the second day and the third day. By the end of the third day, I was a little better.

GAIL: When you noticed that whatever energy you projected she was emulating your energy, then you got a solid concrete “this is what’s happening.”

MARY: Yes, but the first couple of days there wasn’t a real notable change. Because it was so intense, it was very difficult to keep myself motivated. I will say by the third day there was a notable change, a big enough change that it was validating and it was very encouraging to me.

I started to realize also that this could be applied to anything. If you are motivated enough and if you stick to it, really quickly things start to really change in a dramatic way. On day six I was interacting with this woman before a session. She was asking me what was going on and I was telling her about my progress. I said I know I sound like I’m in rehab or something but I’m on day six now. We were going back and forth about it and she was like, “I can’t believe you’ve held this for six days. I can’t do it for one, and you’re still doing it. You’re noticing such tremendous difference in the dog and that is not even the point anymore. You’re noticing so much difference in yourself.”

I am noticing a huge difference in everything around me because my energy is more even. Everything around me is also more even and balanced. Everybody around me seems to be calmer and everything seems to be flowing more easily.

GAIL: That’s a direct reflection of you.

MARY: And this is amazing! I’m really starting to notice that in every single minute I have a choice. No matter how tiny it seems, it’s not an automatic thing anymore. No matter how tiny it is, I have a choice to open or close the door, I have a choice to pick up the dog or not pick up the dog, I have a choice to go in the kitchen and get a piece of cake or not. I mean the teeniest little things that we’re always on autopilot with, I’m noticing that in every single minute I’m actually making choices. I’m actually choosing things.

Because I’m aware that I’m choosing things, I’m starting to notice automatic things that I would do, and then I stop and I’m like why would I do that? I don’t actually want to do that right now. But I would have because it’s so automatic and because I wasn’t paying attention. This is incredible. It’s such freedom because you get to direct yourself every single minute.

I did experience a little bit — it wasn’t overwhelming — a little bit of concern, a little bit of anxiety on Thursday anticipating everybody coming here, anticipating the group session, anticipating big setbacks with everything. But it was brief because I also was paying attention to that — right now you are projecting, you are so not present right now, you’re projecting into tomorrow that everything is going to go to hell. I chose not to go there. I’m going to be in the now, be realistic with myself and realize that it is possible that there can be somewhat of a setback because I might setback. I might not be totally aware of me.

In all of the days that I’ve been doing this, I’ve been alone most of the time. The only people I interact with are Lynda, Donnalie, or my daughter Elizabeth, so I’ve only had three people I’ve had to interact with physically. I’ve been doing sessions, interacting with people on the phone, and I’ve been aware of their energy and what I’m doing and of Polly and everything else, but physically I’ve only had to interact with three people in all of these days. I knew that the troops were going to be descending and that’s a lot of different energies. I was a little shaky and I was unsure of that, whether it would distract me to the point that I would lose my concentration on paying attention to me. So far, for the most part, except for a few moments here and there I haven’t, which I’m really proud of myself about.

VERONICA: I guess that you were directing when we came in — ignore Polly, make no fuss until she quiets down.

MARY: Not everybody cooperated with that, which was okay. It was a good practice for me to check my response, to not get annoyed, to not get irritated, to not be demanding and go into authority mode and say you HAVE to do this, and to recognize that a few people decided not to cooperate and that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.

RODNEY: Do you notice the difference in the dog between the last group session you had up here and this one? Astounding.

LYNDA: Several people have said that.

RODNEY: I watched that dog go around chewing on film cartridges, pulling plugs, trying to dig her way through the wall, just no end of agitation and what you would call misbehavior.

MARY: Going around to everybody’s cup on the floor and knocking it over or drinking out of it.

RODNEY: I had to take away several styrofoam cups from her because I heard they could kill a dog. And yesterday, there was none of that. Yes, the dog would jump down and run down the aisle and come back, but there was none of this craziness.

ELLA: She ran not as much and the barking was less than last time.

VERONICA: It was when the waitress was behind the bar...

ELLA: It was obvious that’s what she was responding to.

MARY: It wasn’t just nothing, that was something that was prompting. That’s okay, that’s normal behavior, something she can’t see.

RODNEY: The crazy behavior last year, there didn’t seem to be anything stimulating that behavior.

ELLA: A while ago, you have discussion and neither of you were upset. You were trying to prove your point and so you were projecting yourself, but the dog was very calm. Even though it appeared that you were convincing, you kept your energy calm and the dog was also reflecting that.

MARY: She’s with me all the time, and it’s a really cool thing for me because I have a constant input, I have a constant validation, I have a constant reflection. It is really cool for me because I’ve always got her in the corner of my eye and she helps me to gauge whether I’m actually accomplishing.

ELLA: It looks like instead of her being helpless and you babying her, you entered into a partnership, which she provides input for you to be able to enhance your energy control.

MARY: I think so. It’s an enormous motivation, because I know I wouldn’t have been able to do this.

ELLA: That is very unique, because if you had to do something for yourself you would probably stop; but if you had to do it for someone else you love, you would be motivated to continue because for this person I would do it. In this case you have somebody you have to work very hard for.

MARY: Right. If you don’t have something you can use as a really strong motivation, you’re probably really likely to give up because it’s so hard.

ELLA: But if you even do it just once in a while, even for a day...

VERONICA: Elias says five minutes in a day.

ELLA: It’s still better. I do notice once in a while these choices, like you said. I did it when we went for a drive. It’s an empty parking lot, there’s no villains any place, and I’m right next to the car and I get out and I lock the car. I noticed that I’m doing that and I knew that I had a choice not to do that. But I continue to do it on autopilot but it’s with the knowledge. Very often with food, sometimes, I don’t feel hungry but it’s the time to eat so I go eat.

I even asked Elias about that, I notice anymore and right away I try to explain it to myself. I don’t always know what influences, and I overwhelm myself with too much information. He said just to notice, don’t even try to analyze it that much. That is confusing to me.

MARY: Especially in this last 14 days, I’m not really getting into what belief is this, what belief is that. I’m not even concerning myself with that. I’m just paying attention to what I’m doing, what I’m responding to, where my energy is and how I’m interacting, keeping my energy in a balanced even place.

ELLA: When you say “where my energy is,” I translate it for myself as what I’m feeling right now, what my body is doing.

MARY: That’s a big clue. I check in with that a lot. When I’m checking in with where’s my energy going, what am I doing, I actually focus my attention on my stomach. Is it going “eh”? Or am I feeling some “uhh” up here (indicating her chest)? Can I feel inside of myself a frustration or an irritation rising up? Am I starting to feel disappointed in something?

Like yesterday at the group session, there were so many people and I was trying to keep my energy even. I was noticing that there were several people who were not cooperating with the whole business of please don’t acknowledge the dog, don’t pet her, don’t make eye contact with her until she’s calm. There were several people that right there, right in my face, who were completely pfft!, give it a rest, it’s a dog! I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do with the dog and you can’t tell me what to do!

LYNDA: And these were close personal friends of yours, for the most part.

MARY: I could feel in just an instant where my energy started to go up and I could have very easily gone into authority mode, I could have very easily gone into irritated. I felt it starting to go but went no, I have a choice here and I don’t need to respond to them any more than I don’t want them to respond to Polly. I thought nope, I don’t have to do that and I do have a choice here. I am going to choose to let that go and keep myself in this space and not concern myself with that. If they’re going to do that, I’m going to trust that my energy is what she is going to key into the most, so if it stays even it won’t matter. It’s not going to mess things up.

LORRAINE M: But you are creating them. You were saying a little while ago that she’s good because you can use her as a barometer. But everybody in the room is a barometer.

MARY: Oh, definitely!

LYNDA: So were they, in that moment. They were reflecting the rise in tension perfectly. That’s what she’s saying.

LORRAINE M: And I am agreeing with that. I’m just saying it doesn’t have to be Polly, because we all don’t have a Polly. I’m just saying it could be anything, any interaction we have with anybody. If we start to get something back and we feel a button being pushed, that’s not them, that’s us.

MARY: Right, exactly.

RODNEY: I think the illustration of your first noticing when you got an email with a forward and you didn’t like it, and you didn’t even verbalize it...

MARY: Right, and it was only for a split second.

RODNEY: Let’s suppose that you let yourself slide a little bit and you get back into the not balancing your energy on a second by second basis...

MARY: Oh, I’ve already noticed a couple of times where I’ve slid into that. I’ve already noticed a few times.

RODNEY: Polly’s being a barometer for that kind of an incident, that’s really extremely valuable for you.

MARY: Yes, it is. It was not an accident that I got her! (Laughs)

RODNEY: So you’re not trying to train her out of being that kind of barometer.

MARY: I am not trying to change her, no. It’s not about changing her. That is not the point at all. It’s about me. This is not about changing her or training her or anything like that. This is about me and knowing that she is a little reflector to me.

Domesticated animals that we have as pets, that’s why we have them. That’s what they do; they reflect us. I’m not going to change her; she’s always going to reflect me. She always has. She’s been that way since she was a tiny puppy. She’s always been a reflection to me, which I’ve always known. The confusing part was I didn’t always know what she was reflecting when she started getting all crazy.

RODNEY: Is there a generalization here that dogs are always that critical a reflector of...

ELLA: Probably animals in general.

MARY: I think animals in general, but I mean domestic animals. I think, though, that there are varying degrees. It depends on the person, what type of dog or animal they get, how intimately interactive they are with it.

It’s just like Dr. Milani said, if you had a pit bull, that dog was bred for a job and would respond differently. It’s not going to be one hundred percent of the time focused on you. It may act out in behaviors because you aren’t addressing to what its natural state is, if you’re not exercising them enough, if you’re not accommodating them in their natural direction.

All dogs are pack animals, but those who have been bred for certain jobs even more so. Polly is too, but she has been bred as a companion. A lot of the things people think of as instinct have been kind of bred out of her, but it hasn’t been bred out of most dogs. No matter how hard they try, they can’t breed that out of them and that’s not a bad thing. They’re still speaking the same language that Polly is. It’s just a matter of us learning what the difference is in that language and realizing how much we peoplize them.

That was the motivation for Lynda to do a session with Elias about this whole thing. Lynda was saying when she comes to the door and Polly is jumping up and down and is all excited, that lets her know that Polly loves her and that she’s happy to see her. But that’s not it at all. It’s yes, I know you, you’re one of my children and now you’re coming in to my atmosphere. Now I’ve got to be crazy because I’ve got to keep you in check so that I know exactly where you are. Once I know everything is in place, okay, but I’m constantly going to be on alert.

LYNDA: And to support that, Elias was saying this is about difference once again. Your species speaks a different language than this species. Polly was very calm on my lap during the session, so I asked what is Polly thinking, for lack of a better word. She is calm and sitting on my lap. He says that you’re her pup. I said, “That’s bad!” He said, “No, that’s how she...”

MARY: That’s her association. It’s not necessarily bad, but it is still a reinforcement that you’re definitely not the leader and this is something she needs to protect.

RODNEY: So basically what you’re saying is — let’s see if this is an accurate description — the training that you’re going through is metaphorically...

MARY: This isn’t even training.

LYNDA: It’s behavior modification.

MARY: Actually it’s not any of that, because it’s all about me.

RODNEY: That’s what I’m saying.

MARY: The training that I’m doing is on myself, me. People training!

RODNEY: The training is to learn how not to present yourself as little children to this dog.

MARY: Yes.

RODNEY: You’re trying to grow up.

MARY: Yes, how to present myself as the leader, that I am capable of taking care of myself, being the leader. The interesting piece in this, though, in relation to Lynda and being the puppy, is that actually — which Dr. Milani has said and even Cesar Millan has said things about this — is that once I’m established as the leader and Polly doesn’t feel like she has to be in control anymore, it’s okay if one or two people in her pack are submissive.

LYNDA: That would be me! (Laughing)

MARY: Lynda is always going to be Lynda. She is always going to be the way she is with Polly. Polly is always going to see Lynda as a submissive member of the pack. That’s just Lynda and that’s not a bad thing, that’s just who she is. Polly’s not going to see that as a bad thing, either.

RODNEY: So Polly’s going to respond to you, not to Lynda.

MARY: It’s like when Dr. Milani was talking to us about this, about the psychology of the dog, she said for years and years they did studies about the pack leaders. What they should have been doing studies about was the subordinates, because they’re the ones that have all the interaction. What they should have been studying was the behavior of the puppies or the subordinates and how they interact, not the alpha dogs, not the alpha female or male, but the subordinate ones because they are the pack.

There’s only one alpha male, one alpha female. They are the ones that call the shots, but all the other dogs interact with each other differently than they do with the leaders, and they are studying that now. In that, Lynda would be more considered an equal with Polly, so she’s going to look at Lynda as being on the same level. She doesn’t have to protect Lynda, she doesn’t have to be on patrol, she doesn’t have to be in control all the time because Lynda is an equal with her.

LORRAINE M: Does she see herself as the alpha female?

MARY: She has!

LORRAINE M: But then she’s not equal to Lynda.

MARY: Not anymore. She was and that’s what has been making her crazy.

LYNDA: She hasn’t really augmented her behavior. There’s still the “uppy-uppy.” I’m supporting Mary in how I let Polly calm down and then I’m the initiator, but her response to me is pretty much the same. We have the same emotional expression to each other, and Elias told me not to thwart my expression towards her. That’s not the point and Mary’s not doing that, either.

MARY: Lynda thought she couldn’t love her anymore.

LYNDA: That’s why I had the session. I was so equating her response to me as her reflection of my own appreciation or that I couldn’t be shmooky with her anymore. Then it clicked. I was equating my people emotional validation thing and not realizing that spurred her need to protect and cover and be stressed. Once that clicked, ignoring her was not that hard. I realized it was for her own good, so that she could become her own natural self.

MARY: It was also an eye-opener for me in interacting with other people in relation to Polly. Dr. Milani was like other people are going to respond to please you. They see as soon as they come into your atmosphere how much you love this dog. Even if they don’t want to, even if they don’t care anything about dogs, even if they’re not a dog person, even if they have their own beliefs that this is an annoying little dog, no matter what their beliefs they’re going to generate behaviors of approaching the dog and being friendly with her because they want to please you. They know she’s important to you, they respect you, and they are going to want to make a display that will please you.

I never thought of that, never. People don’t have to do that. If they want to ignore the dog, they can ignore the dog. They don’t have to play with her. It never occurred to me that people would do that. Eighty percent of people, if you tell them to ignore Polly until she’s calm, they’ll not only ignore her until she’s calm, they’ll ignore her period. It won’t be hard for them and they will be fine with that because they won’t have to please you by being nice to the dog.

That’s another example of how I’m projecting my energy — not just how other people are affecting me with their energy but how my energy is affecting other people.

CARL: Mary, can I tell you a quick story?

MARY: Sure.

CARL: I have a dog, his name is Buster. He’s half boxer, half pit bull. I’ve had him for ten years. Everything you’ve said, almost word for word, I experienced the first two weeks of September when I moved in with Gail.

Gail had a problem with the dog. She said I’m trying to create my reality, but I can’t create my reality based on what your dog wants. How long has he been telling you what to do? I went into defense mode and my first thought was you’re not coming between me and my dog! But I didn’t verbalize that. She was right and I gave her kudos. She said I had to regain control. I was complaining about his behavior — he’s always been that way, he’s too old to change. She says let’s retrain you.

He’s now a completely changed dog, and now he’s like a real dog to me. He obeys me and he does everything he’s supposed to.

MARY: That is great. I really acknowledge you because I know it’s difficult and it’s difficult getting beyond being defensive. Sorry Cath, I have to mention you! You don’t know how many times my friend Cathy has made comments to me about different things with Polly and I wasn’t ready to hear her. Fortunately Cath backs off and knew that I wasn’t ready to hear that yet.

The interesting thing with Cesar Millan and Dr. Milani was they both said the hardest thing to change is the person. Dogs live in the moment. They live in the now. There’s no such thing as you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. They are so present that they will go with whatever you’re doing now. Whatever happened, no matter how many years they’ve been doing a certain behavior, it doesn’t matter. If you change you, they change too.

The cool thing about watching Cesar Millan is that you get to see the dog with the crazy or really bad behavior and by the end of the half hour you get to see them completely changed. Obviously he hasn’t changed in a half an hour because he’s dealing with the people. It takes a few weeks. But you get to see a beginning and a result within that half hour show, where it is doable. If the person alters themselves, that animal, no matter how old it is, it doesn’t matter, they can change so fast.

I’ve also been so validated this weekend and I am so appreciative of that. Ben and Frank, who can be really blunt and obnoxious about things and very direct, Ben and Frank hated this dog. I don’t think Rodney was real impressed with her, either. It was a shock to me when Donnalie told me that Ben and Frank hate the dog. They never said anything to me! But they would never say anything to me; they just tease me about her. They’re not going to say that to me because they love me. But Donnalie told me Polly’s annoying and that lots of people see her that way. I have gotten so much feedback about that this weekend, that she’s like a different dog. That is validating to me because she is a reflection, and that means that I have changed.

CARL: So if I can see the change in my dog, I know there’s hope. And whenever I’m good, Gail gives me a treat now! (Laughter)

RODNEY: What did you two do that shifted the dog’s behavior? The dog was protecting you?

CARL: No, he wasn’t protecting me, he was directing me and it was so automatic — you open the door, you close the door, he’s going in, he’s going out — I wouldn’t even think about it.

GAIL: It was so funny. There’s three ways to get out of my house. He would let the dog out the back door and it would go around to the front, and he would be going to the front...

CARL: I was the dog’s entertainment! It was a matter of taking control, being a cause instead of an effect. You find yourself automatically getting up and opening the door. Now it’s really fun, it freaks me out. “Go lay down in your bed!” and he listens to me! He acts like a real dog.

LORRAINE M: Let me add something; this is a good point. When you were saying you changed you and it changed her, it changed us too. It’s everybody that talks to you, everybody that’s in your life you can change by changing you.

ELLA: What do you mean? I don’t want to dispute it, I just want you to clarify in which way you feel change. Calmer, less...?

LORRAINE M: You just change what happens. You change...

ELLA: But how do you feel that effect?

CARL: It might be a subtle thing. You might not even be aware of it. It’s just like a domino effect, a ripple effect.

ELLA: Are you saying a ripple effect occurs even if you are not aware of it?

MARY: Yes. Actually that’s really a good observation, because I have noticed that with you, with you (indicating a few people), with a few other people that aren’t here right now, my interaction is way easier this weekend, way calmer, and I noticed that your energies are way calmer. It’s much more enjoyable.

ELLA: What are you comparing to, New Orleans?

MARY: I would say pretty much every time before now.

ELLA: Because, if you remember, you’ve only seen me once. How do you compare, before and after? I didn’t even have a chance to hardly interact with you.

MARY: Right. I have had a tendency to be very responsive to excited or intense or agitated energy. I bounce off that very easily. I respond to that very easily and I agitate myself.

ELLA: What you meant maybe was that I was agitated but you didn’t let it...?

MARY: You may have been agitated or you may not have been. Your energy may have been intense. It doesn’t mean that it was agitated, it just means that it’s intense. When people are projecting an intensity of energy, I have a tendency to bounce off that and to be very responsive to that and to react in similar mode.

RODNEY: I gotta share something with you. Was it last year or the year before? There was a group session up here, there was a snowstorm down below, and I drove all night to get up here. It was a couple of years ago. I left home at midnight and when I got up here, I couldn’t get into a hotel and I didn’t want to come over here and bother you. I had an opportunity to do some business up at the Canadian border, so I drove up there and back. It was 250 miles from New Jersey and then 150 more miles. I was totally fried.

The following morning it was so bad, my energy was just... I wanted to take a downer or something, some kind of a drug that would knock me out. The guy who runs my company says Rod, take Monday and Tuesday off. I felt like I could not come over here in that condition, so I got in the car and drove home. I drove home on Sunday. I could have taken another couple of days. I wonder if that wasn’t intuitively knowing, because this comment that you just made that you bounce off of people’s energy, I would have been bad for you that day.

LORRAINE M: This is my two cents. I think it would have been more innately your choice that YOU didn’t want to have energy problems. I don’t think you would have been considering her energy, from an energy level. Your energy doesn’t care what her energy is doing.

MARY: That’s possible, because depending on what the other person’s energy is, up until now it was an automatic thing for me to bounce off other people’s energy and like really reflect that in more intense ways. You’re probably right, it would have been not such a good thing for you, because you were already fried and I would have been intensifying that. If you would have displayed any agitation at all or any tone or any attitude or anything, I would have been right there reflecting that and bouncing off of that.

RODNEY: What you’re saying is only partially accurate. Most of the time, unless I’m really balanced and I’m not looking at it, but if I’m not balanced I become more and more critically aware of how other people are bouncing off of my energy. I’m very aware of that.

MARY: I understand that definitely now. That’s what I’ve been noticing in this last two weeks.

(Group begins talking over each other and a short break is announced)


ELLA: Could you qualify for me, if you could, when you say somebody else’s energy is intense, I understand that it’s not always negative, but is it penetrating your energy field more? I ask because I also feel other people’s energy, not in the way that you do but in my own way. But I don’t understand the definition.

MARY: It’s very strong.

ELLA: But when you say “strong,” it means somebody’s pushing on your personal space to me.

MARY: It can be, but not necessarily that the other person is pushing on my energy. It’s just that they are expressing an energy that’s very strong. It’s not that they are pushing on my energy, it’s that I’m taking it in.

LORRAINE M: Can I add something here? This is about me and Mary, so I’m coming clean here.

MARY: Go ahead, because we’ve had some back and forth energy!

LORRAINE M: I’m kind of like her. When you talk energy, it’s abstract to me. I get it a different way. I’ve had conversations with Mary on the telephone before a session — which I haven’t had in quite a while — where I feel very close to Mary, where I feel like we’re very good friends. But then I’ve been here or places with her where I get a bad vibe, where I don’t like her anymore. It’s not quite that black and white, but it’s more a feeling like I don’t care if I see Mary anymore because I get a bad feeling. I don’t know what it is. I think part of it is I think it’s me — and it is because it’s a reflection of me — and that makes me feel bad because now I think it’s me.

But when she talks energy, that’s what it is to me. That’s how I feel it, anyway. I don’t feel energy, I feel like there’s something I don’t like.

ELLA: You interpret that as a feeling and she uses the word “energy.”

MARY: For me, it’s not so much of a feeling. It’s more that I’m noticing my energy getting more intense. With certain people I notice that happening more consistently. You’re one of them (indicating Lorraine), and that’s why when you’re here in person you’re like I don’t care if I see Mary again because this is really not comfortable.

I completely understand and that is totally validating to me. I’m noticing that the reason that happens... And I’ve only noticed it in the last 14 days because I am paying attention so intensely to my energy. It’s shown me tons of things about how I respond, and it’s shown me that I have a really big energy. I know that about myself. When I encounter somebody else that has a big energy...

LORRAINE M: I have a big energy?

MARY: Yes, you do! When I encounter someone else that also has a big energy, who is very directed and direct, a lot of times I interpret that as intense and I automatically respond to that — or I have — in matching. I hate to say that because up until now that word would have been taboo to me, that I was matching energy with somebody. But that’s an automatic response with me, that when I encounter somebody that has a really big energy...

ELLA: It’s a protection.

MARY: No, it’s not. It’s not a protection. It’s an automatic response of recognition that this person’s energy is just as big as mine and it’s an automatic response. It’s a recognition of a similarity, and in that recognition of that similarity I automatically match it.

LORRAINE M: Is that something everybody does or does that have to do with orientation?

MARY: I don’t really know. I just know that I noticed it in myself in this last 14 days, that I do that. Donnalie, my daughter, has really big energy. She’s very direct. Because I am interactive with her so often and so consistently, it’s not as big a challenge with me.

LORRAINE M: Was it when she was younger?

MARY: Oh, totally. We went through lots of power struggles. But at this point in my life, it’s not a big deal and it’s easy for me to just be myself and be okay and not match energy with her.

With people that I’m not around very much and then they come into my physical proximity and my atmosphere, that becomes a challenge. It’s difficult and my automatic response is to match that energy. To me, the only way that I can describe it is in a visualization, as if I’m a sumo wrestler and another sumo wrestler comes into my atmosphere. I’m not necessarily opposing them, it’s not necessarily a negative thing, but it’s like this other sumo wrestler is coming into my atmosphere so now we have to bump bellies.

LORRAINE M: Is it like you feel like there’s not enough space?

MARY: No, it’s kind of like I have to put myself on the same plane, that I have to be equal with that person. I’m already aware that my energy is really big, but I’m not used to other people’s energy being that big. When someone else comes into my environment that naturally expresses that kind of big energy, I immediately recognize it. I immediately know that it’s there and I immediately respond to it in matching it. It’s like those two sumo wrestlers coming together and bumping tummies so that we know we’re on equal footing. It’s almost like “your energy’s not going to out-match mine.” I WILL be on equal footing with you. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something I recently noticed that I automatically do.

The unfortunate piece of that is up until now I didn’t really understand what I was doing. The result of it is I put people off or I upset them or they interpret like you did, when you told me in New Orleans that you felt sadness.

ELLA: I just felt you were profoundly sad.

MARY: There was a element of that, but there was also an element of... I didn’t really understand it myself until now. I just knew I was doing something.

GAIL: Don’t you feel like totally exhausted when they leave because you’re so tired of matching their energy?

MARY: Yes.

GAIL: That’s how I feel when I leave work. It’s like I get to go home and I don’t have to do that anymore!

MARY: It is exhausting.

LORRAINE M: I found with me and you, though, I more or less stayed away from you.

MARY: Yes, you have really efficiently avoided me the last few times we have been in proximity! Interestingly enough, even if you didn’t know it, it was doing me a favor. I didn’t have to be automatically in that mode of rising to that energy and matching it.

ELLA: Normally when people talk about these things... You’re talking about things that are uncomfortable to even speak about, because someone...

MARY: Someone’s going to get upset or their feelings are going to get hurt.

LORRAINE M: But we need to talk about these things because it’s energy and everything that Elias talks about is energy.

MARY: It is! And this is exactly the point of paying attention to our energy and what we’re doing and how we interact with people and knowing that...

ELLA: What it means to me is that you’re on a different level, that you’re comfortable talking about those things.

LYNDA: I know what you’re saying. These are normally big touchy issues.

LORRAINE M: And it took us this long to talk about it!

MARY: And for me to figure out what the heck I was doing. Up until now, just like with the dog, I wasn’t really aware that I was doing anything.

ELLA: Being here and hearing that makes me feel good. I’m so impressed that something’s resolving. Instead of opposition, there’s a cooperation.

LYNDA: It’s examples that this stuff works.

MARY: (To Barry) What were you talking about in the kitchen? I was overhearing conversations but I wasn’t...

BARRY: My insecurities about last night.

MARY: Really? In what?

BARRY: My apprehensions — this morning I had apprehensions like Lynda told me you had. I didn’t want people to take what I said as gospel.

LYNDA: He was channeling last night — let’s back up.

MARY: Oh! I didn’t know about that!

BARRY: It was my first time with people, other than the two teachers that I’ve been going to. I knew so much of it was me, so I was apprehensive. I also felt like they were putting me on a pedestal. Also Suzanne thanked me. I expected people to congratulate me, not thank me. Suzanne knew I didn’t want to do it in front of people.

SUZANNE: For just having the courage and the grace enough to trust to do it, to give us that. I think of it as a gift. Whatever comes out, it’s done with good intent.

BARRY: That was a big milestone for me.

MARY: That’s a huge milestone, and I’m sure that also prompts you to really pay attention to yourself and what’s going on inside of you.

BARRY: It’s no different than what I was doing with Lisa Ann, one of the instructors. It’s no different. It’s just that I overcame an incredible fear of doing it in front of knowledgeable people who were not my teacher. It’s like playing a concerto in front of your teacher. It’s not like playing a concert for your peers.

RODNEY: We were talking on the back porch about noticing your energy and reconfiguring it if possible to handle day-to-day issues.

Over the last two or three years I’ve become incredibly aware of my ability to sooth people. I belong to an organization, very active, about 150 people, and I’m on the board of trustees. There was so much in-fighting and three-year-old behavior, really nasty all around. The board has about ten people on it. I was going to quit the board, quit the church. The ex-president was constantly creating conflict with people who were running it.

So I quit. I went home that night and had a dream, and based on that dream and some reading with the cards and the I Ching, I decided that it wasn’t good for me to leave the group. I called the next day and said that I was coming back and that I would take any position that they would want me to. Within 24 hours, they offered me the position of president.

Over the holidays, the Christmas holidays, everybody was coming to me and complaining bitterly about the really nasty things that other people were doing and how was I going to straighten this out. The interesting thing is that it was almost effortless. I didn’t try to solve anybody else’s problems. I just listened to everybody at great length. Instead of offering solutions, I told them it was going to be taken care of. (Laughter) So political, so not locking yourself into any position! I constantly saw the better part of them, and the whole organization transformed itself.

LORRAINE M: No, you transformed it! It is YOUR reality and you changed it.

RODNEY: But it was monitoring my energy and not getting caught up...

LORRAINE M: Paying attention to yourself, is that what you mean?

RODNEY: Paying attention, noticing, and not getting caught up in other people’s stuff. It just seemed that everybody really wanted it to work. Within six months, after the board left for one reason or another, the people who came back to the board are dedicated, intelligent... I sit back and watch them do all the work. I’m the least producer in that organization!

BARRY: It’s interesting about appreciation. In my 20s I had an employer and he taught me that’s how you deal with your employees. I still do that with my employees, but I never did it in a spiritual sense.

LYNDA: In your regular life sense. Here’s your job, here’s your friends, here’s your family, but it’s all us. The only distinction is the roles we’ve created. That’s really no distinction. It’s the action of appreciation that is exceptionally amazing.

MARY: It’s really powerful.

BARRY: In the employment thing, it makes them work better and they are more pleased with their work. It’s not that their work is more productive; they are more pleased with their work.

LYNDA: I think a by-product is that it is more productive.

MARY: When I was working in the grocery industry, I used to get so irritated at supervisors that were constantly discounting people. I used to think to myself if these people would be acknowledging their employees they would get a whole lot more work done. They would feel like they were doing a good job and they would want to do their job.

LYNDA: The hard part is to do it for ourselves first. For me, until I started paying attention to myself and finding one thing to appreciate in a conflicting situation, to find the point in me of appreciation in a moment when I’m very far from appreciating anything is challenging. That’s why finding one small thing, like my feet or the button on the person’s shirt, the action of it within minutes reconfigures the interaction.

DONNA: And I had noticed the bartender’s buttons on her shirt, behind the counter. I thought those are really interesting buttons — and that’s not something I usually notice!

LYNDA: But it helps! It’s not about liking the other person.

There’s a person at work that I don’t like and I’ve given myself permission not to like that person. In our initial interaction, I would come home from work every night almost hysterical because I was so threatened and in such defense mode and so opposing because I was automatically so defensive and threatened.

Then I started implementing pausing and not automatically responding, finding one thing to appreciate about myself, and worse, finding one thing to appreciate about that person. (Laughter) That was more difficult; it has to be genuine. So I started appreciating that person’s complexion. You do this all in your head in a nano-second. Slowly over time, I still don’t like that person very much, but I know a lot about...

MARY: But it’s okay for you not to!

LYNDA: And we work together well, we cooperate together. I still flinch once in a while, but I pay attention to it and it doesn’t interrupt our interaction. It’s fascinating; it’s very unfamiliar.

ELLA: What’s your Plan B, in case that person gets pimples? (Laughter)

BARRY: Lynda can like pimples — that’s the judgment!

LYNDA: I’ve got one — they’ve got a great smile.

MARY: I didn’t even recognize that person when we met again. They looked different.

RODNEY: We were doing this meditation, and I was looking at this picture on the wall and I reconfigured the picture. You know how you do that sometimes? It was a picture of a woman standing looking out the window, and all of a sudden there’s the head of a man in the picture. It faded out and I wondered if I could do that again. Then I talked another person in the room into seeing the same picture. In the following week, I did it and tried to see how long I could hold it there. I could hold it for a long time. The third week when I walked in, that’s the only picture I saw. I saw the picture with the man in it, and I had to work to get it back to the original picture. I asked Elias about this, what was happening in the picture. He says it’s changing. I said the pigment’s different? He said yes.

LORRAINE M: Why wouldn’t it be? You know we’re all creating a different picture.

RODNEY: Yeah, but when it gets so in your face...

MARY: I understand what you’re saying. Even in this two weeks, actually experiencing things that have altered so tremendously and seeing actual physical things change, it’s a little weird because you’re kind of looking at it like this is impossible.

I was watching “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and in this one scene the girl is saying we picked up some hitchhikers in the cargo bay. The guy says that’s impossible, and she says it’s not impossible, just highly improbable. They have a big button on the console that’s the improbability button. When you push that button, all kinds of things start happening. Everything reconfigures instantly and turns into something different but then it goes back to normal. It was just a funny aside about things that seem impossible or weird.

GAIL: How many people in this room are common? The dynamics of common are that you create outwardly. I was also thinking about that you didn’t recognize the person that Lynda works with, and what I’ve been doing a lot lately is seeing different aspects of people. You may be viewing another aspect that you are aligning with.

MARY: That’s a possibility. It could also be the difference in atmosphere. When we first met, it was at Lynda’s work. But when we met again, the energy seemed totally different and their physical appearance seemed totally different. It was in a different setting and that may have been an influence on my perception. It was a completely different scenario and I wasn’t taking in any influence from the work situation. It was like meeting this person brand new, all over again.

An interesting element of that is how easily we can be influenced by other people’s perceptions and take that in, and how easily that colors our own perception of something or someone. Were we to be really paying attention to ourselves and aware of our own energy, that wouldn’t happen. We would be able to meet and interact with a person no matter what input we got from somebody else and to evaluate on our own that person’s energy.

GAIL: This time, did you think that that could be a different aspect?

MARY: It’s possible; I would not be convinced of that direction. I think that it’s not necessarily a different aspect. It could be, but I’m perceiving it differently from my energy. When we first met, my energy was already influenced and I was projecting already before I walked in the room. This time I didn’t have any of that. I was paying attention to my own energy and where it was going, keeping it even. I was able to see that person in a completely different way, for who they are, and be in a neutral space.

LYNDA: And I’m completely neutral. To rise to the challenge to cooperate with someone you don’t like and give yourself permission to not like them, how to you even do that?

CARL: It’s called marriage! (Laughter)

MARY: That’s a hard thing! Lynda and I have talked about it. Creating cooperation with somebody you don’t like is a huge challenge.

LYNDA: And that’s why sometimes you can only find a button!

MARY: Sometimes you can’t even do that. My daughter’s boyfriend, I can’t stand him. I have not liked him from the minute I met him. To get me to appreciate anything about him would be a milestone. I can’t stand anything about him.

The interesting thing is that we don’t put an opposing energy between us. I made a decision about a year and a half ago to not be opposing of him and to cooperate. I include him in everything and I treat him genuinely like everybody else, even though I don’t like him. Now he doesn’t irritate me even a hundredth of what he used to. Because I’m not opposing him, I’m almost the only person that he’s not directly opposing. Every time he goes in a direction of being in opposition with everybody else, I’m not in the room.

LORRAINE M: What is he reflecting of everyone?

MARY: I think what he is reflecting is that everyone can’t stand him...

LORRAINE M: But it’s not about him, it’s about them!

MARY: But it’s also about differences and about preferences. This man is very different and he expresses himself in a way that is very contrary to most people’s preferences. He’s abusive, he’s obnoxious, he’s nasty, and he’s opinionated. He’s creepy!

LORRAINE M: From what I’ve read, the way to deal with that person is kind of the button thing. It’s to not focus on any of his behavior or what you don’t like, but only focus on his good points. Focus on your daughter and how good he is for her.

MARY: He’s not good for her!

LORRAINE M: That’s your opinion! Obviously she doesn’t agree with you!

MARY: No, she does. She’s been in this relationship for a lot of years, and she is in the victim role and is very controlled. You can go in Elias-speak all you want, but in real-life terms people do these things. She doesn’t have a lot of information because she doesn’t offer it to herself. She’s not ready for it and it’s okay. I have to accept that this is where she is and let it go. That’s what she’s creating. But that doesn’t change the fact that this man is a creep and has no redeeming qualities. There’s nothing I can find to appreciate about him.

The point is that even though I can’t stand this man and I can’t find one single thing to appreciate about him, I can cooperate with him. I can create an atmosphere that is completely not opposing and I can cooperate with him. When he is here, there is no opposition between us. There is an even calm between us. Even in the midst of it, he picks at every other person. He doesn’t do it with me because I’m not challenging him. I don’t challenge him; I don’t oppose him.

My motivation for that is I have finally realized that I don’t have to like this guy. What is he really doing to me? Nothing. I didn’t choose to be in a relationship with him. I choose to put up with him several times a year because I love my daughter and she’s with him. If I don’t include him, she won’t come over. But I didn’t choose him as a partner. He’s not abusing me. He’s not doing anything to me. I don’t like him because of association. He’s really not affecting my reality at all.

LYNDA: The experience of letting somebody push your buttons like that evokes, with this information...

MARY: It makes us defensive.

LYNDA: And in the experience of defensiveness, there’s a choice. You don’t know you have a choice until you experience him like you have no choice. You experience automatic out of control, defense, opposition, whatever.

“Opposition” is an interesting word. Until Elias defined it, I didn’t know defensiveness was included. I just thought that was getting pissed off back. I was pretty narrow in my analysis of the word “opposition.” Defensiveness is for me retreat and immediate self-trashing. Now this work-person respects me. Everyone around me insists that I’m respected, and I’ve created a respect for myself.

LORRAINE M: Don’t you think that’s because you didn’t respect you?

LYNDA: Totally! And that was totally reflected. It’s not about the other person at all.

LORRAINE M: The other person is nothing but a ball of energy and you’re painting...

LYNDA: No, they’re a real person who has very different ideas, but I don’t oppose. I’m not complying but I’m also cooperating.

MARY: The interesting thing is that all of these things, no matter what it is, it all comes down to what Elias has been saying for ten years, being that present, that aware of yourself and your own energy and what you’re doing in every single minute. As hard as it is in the beginning, it gets easier and more normal. It becomes more natural, not exhausting, and not confusing.

(At this point several people get up to leave and say goodbye, and the talk ends.)