It was one of those workouts at the gym that left me glowing with a warm and pleasant
kind of exhaustion. My body felt great. I was looking very forward to the hot envigorating shower that followed every one
of my workouts. I considered it a well deserved reward.
As I entered the shower room, I could hear a loud persistent
voice echoing off the bare tiled walls. The language was foreign but the tone was not. It was one of passionate anger. The
speaker was standing naked underneath one shower while facing what appeared to be his friend in the adjacent shower. The speaker
was gesturing wildly as he spoke.
As I started my own shower, the man continued to speak.
He went on and on and on yelling his story. After several minutes. I looked around the room to take a measure of how the speaker’s
behavior was being received by others. I made eye contact with several other men and it was obvious they were uncomfortable
and didn’t quite know what to make of it all. As the speaker continued to yell, his voice was quickly becoming very
annoying to me. He spoke at a machine gun pace. His volume remained steady … very loud. He seemed completely oblivious
to the effect his behavior had on the room. This man was ruining my reward!
As I grew more irritated, I had visions of me turning
to him and telling him to SHUT UP. Then I had visions of him telling me to SHUT UP in return! That approach was clearly not
going to work. Then I thought of quietly walking up to him and politely asking him to stop. But somehow, being gentle with
an unknown naked man in the shower room didn’t seem like quite the right approach either!
A small inner voice whispered, “Come on Tom. You’re
an intelligent man. Be more creative”! And suddenly, up from my frustration came bubbling a delicious idea! Hey …
I’m a musician! What do I do to pick myself up?
I began to sing!
Some good old rock’n’roll. On and on I sang.
As I looked around me, many of the men I had previously exchanged glances with had huge grins on their faces! The speaker
continued loudly with his story but his voice faltered every so often as he turned to look at me. I continued to sing …
pretending to be oblivious to my surroundings! After several minutes of my own voice bouncing off the shower room walls, the
speaker became quiet. A few moments passed and my song was over.
When I had finished showering, I left the shower room
and began shaving at one of the sinks. In the mirror, I could see one of the other men leave the shower room. As he passed
by me, he recognized me, smiled big, and gave me the thumbs up!
I tell that story to highlight one of the several
major benefits I received from working with Dr. Ross Laing. That benefit can best be described as, recognizing I have a choice
about how to respond to any situation; that I no longer need to remain a robot, automatically using old familiar responses
(aka “reactions”) that end up being very ineffective. The value of having learned that I have a choice cannot
be overstated. And in recognizing that inherent value, I consciously develop my ability to choose my responses; and slowly
my ability is becoming a skill; a skill that is valuable in every facet of my life; at work, at play, and in relationships.
One of my favorite quotes regarding Choice comes
from the book Conversations With God (book 1). God is quoted as saying:
“The Master is one who always
comes up with the same answer – and that answer is always the highest choice.
In this the Master is imminently predictable. Conversely, the student is completely unpredictable. One can tell how
one is doing on the road to mastery by simply noticing how predictably one makes the highest choice in responding or reacting
to any situation.
Of course, this throws open the question, what choice is highest?
That is a question around which have revolved the philosophies and theologies of man since the beginning of time. If
the question truly engages you, you are already on your way to mastery.”
Earlier I mentioned several major benefits of having
worked with Dr. Laing. In addition to learning I have a choice, another benefit can simply be described as “learning
to love myself”. The phrase has become hackneyed over the years and yet, it still remains a profound truth.
How many times have I approached Ross with the “latest”
burden on my shoulders over something I had done some hours or days earlier; convinced that “this time” I truly
hit the height of stupidity? More often than not, I was absolutely convinced Ross would agree with my judgement over how foolish
I had been.
But he would have none of it, or at least I never detected
any judgement. What I received instead was another gentle reminder that I was indulging in drama; another gentle reminder
to be more tender and loving with myself.
This same scene had to play itself out over the course
of several years before I was able to catch my dramas with my own heart; before I was able to replace the harsh inner voices
with the more gentle and loving voice that Ross had brought to my attention time and time again.
And that loving inner voice is invaluable, especially
when living in a world that is so quick to judge and criticize. It is truly a blessing to be able, for the most part, to ignore
those judgements and simply tell myself, “You are a good man Tom. Yes, you may have made a mistake but, without making
them, you learn nothing”.
Such self appreciation has led me to be more bold in
And that makes life so much more exciting … and
a heck of a lot more fun!
So thank you Ross; for your passion; for your love and
concern for the human condition; for your skill in feeling the soul of others and bringing to point exactly what a soul needs
to hear and when it needs to hear it; and especially for your ability to guide another into living and feeling more fully.
This soul deeply appreciates and loves you for the awakening.