Being Human: A Catalog of Insights
Advanced Practice: a Process of Taking Stock

The Scoreboard

In playing the awareness game, we have what I call a "phenomenological scoreboard." In this context, phenomenological means "known by direct sensory experience of present phenomena," or known by awareness of it. This is contrasted with "known by logical interpretation of conceptual data," or known by thinking about it. There are no words or numbers on the scoreboard here, so, when there is score, you have to sense it by its intensity.

To read this scoreboard you need to stop in the midst of whatever is going on, and take stock. What you are looking for here first is whether there is "something there" on the scoreboard--"something there"--around you or within--a perceivable intensity that gives you an experiential "hit" that there is stress, tension, or conflict in the field. If there seems to be stress, then there is score on the scoreboard. And this game is about playing score off the scoreboard, one move at a time. It is a process of reducing the intensity of conflict for the purpose of having harmony instead.

You may first get a hint of this stress, tension, or conflict "hovering around" the other person, or else, vaguely within your own body. Something's there. You may have been talking along together, and at a certain point, you got a vague sense that the other may be upset, or may be reacting to something you said. Or it may be that you suddenly get a sense that you have become upset or annoyed, perhaps because what you wanted is being thwarted, or perhaps by something that the other person said. I am referring to those moments when the sweetness of the natural flow of human companionship turns sour, and there is "something there." (Or, each person may have showed up at the meeting already bearing such tensions.)

In the awareness game, whenever one finds score on the scoreboard like that, this realization of stress is an invitation to start paying attention. It is like an opening buzzer for the game to begin. From there it is a matter of going on taking stock, first pausing and examining your own self, to see what you are in mid-course of doing as the buzzer sounded. And then it is a matter of keeping this same focus in examining what the other person is doing.

The Field

The field is the space you are there in with the other person.

Each of your bodies is in this field, and how they move and play can be watched and listened to. When score shows up on the scoreboard, the whole spectrum of what each of you are doing in the field is portrayed in the different sets of wheels in the wheelbook.

There are projected scenarios, or meanings projected onto the scene, there are perhaps quite different emotions on each person's part, two sets of logic and reason in the thinking that is going on, distinct ego needs and wants, and two sets of typical manipulative behavior--all reflected in the types on the wheel. And there are also the types of essential strengths and qualities underlying all this, which are often over-looked in the conflicted dramas that happen when these scenarios are projected in so many of the scenes that take place in our daily lives.

In an ordinary meeting, when score shows up on the scoreboard, either or both of you are there at that time with a typical scenario projected upon the scene. This is what each of your selves is there at that encounter for: control, admiration, being right, the beauty of it (as each one sees it), comfort, security, intimacy, or just for having company. Even with strangers in an elevator, these scenarios may be out there. And with family, friends, and associates these scenarios may be characterizing much of the time you spend together.

You can stop and take stock within your self and see if you can recognize what you are trying to get out of the situation at that moment. Is it control? or comfort? Is it admiration? or security? Etc. And you can contemplate from the things you see and hear the other person doing right then which of those eight projected scenarios seems to go along with the flavor of what they are doing.

If one person is there for intimacy--being personally close and caring--and the other person is there for being right--making adjustments according to the rules--it can make a world of difference if they understand what is going on. Otherwise, one of them is likely to have their feelings hurt, while the other probably gets angry at them. And neither will have any idea where the other is coming from. (And so it goes in all the other meetings of types.)

Yet, in playing this game, if either one notices that score has shown up on the scoreboard in the tension that has arisen between them, perhaps they can get off of their own scenario for awhile. and the scene may change for the better. At least, the nature of their relationship can be brought into reality again by one of them--and both, if they will agree.

The awareness game is about taking score off the scoreboard. When there is something there, it is an invitation to wake up and engage with it directly, and play it out of the field. Any time you can have the presence of mind to play your own scenario out of the field, you can have the privilege of being there for the discovery of what's really happening (instead of merely what you originally wanted to happen). Playing with what's really happening is playing in reality.

Taking Stock of the Parts of the "Self"

When there is score on the scoreboard, it is an indication that a person's "self" has arisen in the scene. In this context, the self is composed of emotions, thinking, ego desires, and typical behaviors which arise together when an impact with life occurs and there is stress, tension, and conflict. When this reactive "self" is dormant, one may say that what remains is the "true self," or "no self," or simply the natural core of the person, just being there or acting "selflessly" in harmony with passing life.

A person may be in this "true self" in the scene--"goofing along," or "grooving along," as one might put it, perhaps smiling, enjoying it for what it is, or dealing with it appropriately, not making anything out of it, nor lacking in anything either--not having to be anybody! And then score suddenly shows up on the scoreboard. A "self" has come into the picture, with a stake in it, a scenario. One of them may have begun playing for control over the other person ("Do what I tell you, or else!"), for example. Or one of them started in playing for security ("Take care of me!") or for being right ("I know right from wrong, and you're wrong!"). And tension arises in the air when these things happen.

This tension is absorbed in each of the bodies of the people present. And because it is tense, it can be felt when a person has the presence of mind to look for it inside their body with their sense of touch. (Right now, if you'd like, you can just scan the interior of your own body, part by part, for any sensations that you can feel in there, and see if there is any perceptible tension anywhere around.)

So, here again, a player can take stock of the presence or absence of tensions, or negative emotional feelings within her, or within him. And the set of emotions wheels will show the correlation between typical basic feelings and the types they match up with.

It is valuable to know what emotion is in you, and it is healing to actually be "in touch" with it, that is, feeling the sensations of it this way. If a person continues to take stock of the simple experience of their feelings like this, they will begin to experience a lessening of the tensions. With perseverence, one can transform their negative feelings without denying them. And the release of these tensions gives rise to the sensations of the corresponding positive feelings, which can be perceived in the same areas of the body, and which feel good. (Fear becomes courage--the palpable sense of having the strength to do it. Loneliness becomes solitude. Anger becomes laughter. Etc.--when they are patiently "processed" by feeling their sensations awarely this way.)

And you can take stock of what emotion the other may be feeling, too. This is done by pausing and watching for awhile and getting a sense of it in what they say and do, as well as by how they look and come across when you pay attention like this. It is valuable to know this information. If they are sad and you don't pick up on it, you are ignorant of perhaps the most important thing that's going on as you continue in the situation. If they are in anxiety, or they are just feeling tired, or they are jealous, this is information which can help you to calmly understand what their reality is like for them.

This is not to suggest that you should attempt to change how they feel, or try to get them to stop feeling the way they do. If they are in touch with it and share about it with you, you can acknowledge that you understand. You can say that you see that they are angry, or sad, or whatever emotion they are having. This way you are both playing in reality together. If you tell them what you realize of your own emotions, you are letting them know who you really are. (Saying "I feel sad." is not manipulating. Saying "You should make me happy because I feel sad." is manipulating.) In this game, feelings are shared so the other can be in reality with us, not to get them to do what we want them to do.

Similarly, it is possible to take stock of the thinking mind of your self by simply watching what you are thinking, literally--or what you have just thought, the moment before. (Thinking is the talking you do to yourself.) To a certain extent, the thinking mind of the other person can also be examined, since talking is "thinking out loud." People do censor their thinking when they talk. Even so, the things that each of us say out loud can be examined and seen to fall clearly into the distinct patterns of thinking of the eight types, as shown in the thinking wheels. By identifying this we can often correctly infer what people are not saying, as well as what they say out loud.

Since thinking involves beliefs, opinions, judgments, and projections--as well as descriptions--there is a certain vulnerability for all of us in our thinking. It is very helpful if we can recognize this. Thinking is based mainly on conclusions that were drawn in the past. So it does not relate openly and objectively with things happening in the present. When we can recognize the beliefs and judgments in our own thinking, we can make a second appraisal if we'd like--if we are willing to be patient and, again, take stock.

We can recognize, in fact, that there are fixed projections on reality in our thinking, and that this is not reality itself. Thinking is "second-hand." Only awareness knows life as it is, directly.

Through this reflecting on our own thinking, simply watching what it does, we may come to realize that the truth of what we think in a given situation is really "I don't know." This is "beginner's mind," the most powerful mental position from which to attempt to study anything in life. "I don't know" is the heart of objectivity. It opens the door to just looking to see what is being so.

And when, by taking stock of it, we can see the typical patterns of one of the eight types in another person's spoken conversation, we can understand how strongly they think they do know what they believe and judge. There is no use pretending that isn't so. Arguing with them isn't going to work. Some other approach must be found--if only keeping silent.

We can also take stock of the apparent ego motives, both within ourselves and in others. What do they need or want? Sometimes we may be willing to go along. But we don't have to unknowingly, especially when we are being taken adantage of. And if we perceive honestly how we are alienating the other by taking advantage of them, we may come to understand the rationale of the strategy of this game, to let the ego go, in the mutual interests of both.

As we become familiar with what they look and sound like by studying the wheelbook, we can take stock of what manipulations are going on. Then it becomes possible to recognize and drop our own manipulations by choice, and to choose to step aside and dodge the manipulations of others--letting them pass on through without impacting on our bodies and stirring up internal reactions and stress.

Moreover, we can take stock of the essence of the other and one's own essence--the essential strengths and qualities that are present in each of us, yet which may be over-ridden by the distracting manipulations of the personality that are being put out there in selfish scenarios. By recognizing personality in one's self or others, one can understand the essence that lies underneath--and deal from, and with that.

Taking Stock of the Whole Situation

In these ways, by continuing to pay attention at any time, a player may patiently take stock of the whole situation: the scenarios that appear to be out there, the emotional feelings on each side, the types of logic each of the thinking minds are applying, the needs and wants of their respective egos, the manipulations of their personalities . . . . . and the strengths and qualities of the essences that they each have underneath. One may contemplate any parts of that or all of that together, and continuously be finding insights that are valuable. (A player can also take stock like this of every person present after a meeting or event that they remember and are later wondering about--piecing together what they remember to recreate the scene and checking those elements on the wheel.)

And a person can practice taking stock like this when they are with those who are close to them in their lives and with strangers that they meet, as well. (Family-members, friends, and associates can also agree to work on this together on purpose, if they wish, in the context of this game.)

By becoming familiar with the game, when a person has the presence of mind to recognize any of the above areas of play, they can be reminded of all of the others. They can realize what's going on. The wheel is a mnemonic device which can remind you of the whole spectrum of human beingness. And any time that score comes up on the scoreboard, if a player is willing to pay attention and start playing, they can try out some of the phrases from the list of authentic non-manipulative communications that are given, and just see in their own experience what happens with them and the other people that they relate with in this way.

When you have become familiar with the flavors, or themes of the eight types, you can play with any element that pops out for you --emotion, judgment, expressed desire, manipulation--and check around the wheel in your memory. And you will be able to recognize the type that element fits in with best. And gradually, by doing this one element at a time, you will be able to recognize the primary types of any person you know, as well as those of your own self in the scene. This all becomes possible if one can learn, by practice, to stop in mid-course while life is going on, and take stock of what is actually going on at that time, within and around, and then refer whatever is seen to the wheel.

In summary, when you check in with the phenomenological scoreboard, and there is "something there," just start watching. It is an opportunity to play in a variety of ways. Just by watching inwardly, you are aleady processing your own negative emotions and the judgments of your thinking. If you go on to play the awareness game successfully, by intervening with your own ego and personality, and by addressing the essence of the other from your own essential core, you will be playing the stresses, tensions and conflicts out of the field. And when you check in with the scoreboard and can find that there is "nothing there" . . . . . that is harmony. The sweet flow of human companionship can proceed. Nothing to nothing, in this context, is a winning game. And you can have the presence of mind to watch this delightful experience, too.

Evaluating Progress

There is another taking stock that can be done by a student of this method. When a person wonders what they are getting out of this game, after some period of perhaps weeks or months practicing and playing it, there is a simple test by which they can see if they are progressing and getting better at their play.

When an event that is powerful in one's life is going on, or is just finished, one can take stock and see if one has been more relaxed and less reactive, acting-out less than usual, as compared to similar events, or events of similar intensity remembered in the past.

When you can see that you didn't act-out in a situation this time, the way you used to in the past--didn't have to make a fuss or try to manipulate for advantage, or get so highly upset--you can know that you are growing and becoming free of that conditioning. This is a sign that you are becoming more and more freed-up to have the presence of mind to make more harmonious choices, more able to act from the strengths and qualities of your essence, rather than having to try to make other people be who you want them to be by manipulating them, instead. And that, in simple, is the skill of this game.

Back to the Playground

©1999 Teaching Tools For Mindfulness Training