Keys for Thinking

Meditation & Exercises

What is Keys for Thinking?

Keys for Thinking is a concept that combines ideas from Gestalt Therapy and philosophical concepts to be able to pro-actively think.

Many people ask me, ‘Why did I do that?’ ‘Why did that person do or say what they did?’ This got me wondering: did they think?, did they want to do that?; or was it programmed behaviour?
In thinking about these questions this concept came to me by the way of a mantra of 22 keys.

The keys are called keys as a metaphor; open a way into thinking about something differently.
Of the 22 keys, the first 7 are here as observational exercises.

  • see the real
  • real to touch
  • touch in kind
  • kind to breathe
  • breathe and feel
  • feel to open
  • open in belief
  • belief of place
  • place to speak
  • speak your choice
  • choice to smell
  • smell to live
  • live for taste
  • taste and know
  • know to hear
  • hear and listen
  • listen to think
  • think in time
  • time to imagine
  • imagine truth
  • truth in you
  • you to see
Key: See the Real

Is about seeing things just as they are and not influenced by habitual attitudes, prejudices, judgements or others opinions.

How do you see yourself?
Are you yourself with other people?
How do you see the world around you?
Through what eyes? Positively or negatively?
Are you imaging good things will happen or bad things?

To experience this key, observe yourself when you are alone by how you feel, behave and think.
How does this differ when you are with family members? with work colleagues? with friends? with strangers?
Observe yourself in action over a week or so and then ask yourself the above questions again.
How do these observations inform you and what do you now understand about yourself? How can this benefit you?

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”
Wendell Berry

Key: Real to Touch

Is about connection and contact with people, animals and the environment. Both physically and emotionally.

How do you experience touch?
How does it make you feel when people touch you?
What do you like?
How would you like to be touched?
How would you like to touch people?

To experience this key, physically: notice how often you touch and are touched.
Notice how close you stand to someone, do you feel removed or comfortable – detached or involved. *observe in crowds or when alone.
Emotionally: see how you acknowledge people around you and how you are acknowledged. (with family members, colleagues, friends)
Try engaging more closely, as appropriate respond with sincerity, decisiveness, thoughtfulness.
Be in the moment available and engaged.

“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”
Frederick Buechner

Key: Touch in Kind

Is about how kindness, the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate exists and operates within and around you

What does kindness mean to you?
How does it make you feel when people are kind to you?
How are you kind?
How would you like to be kind?
How would you like people to be kind to you?

To experience this key, examine how kindness works in you, are you kind if someone is kind to you or are you because it makes you feel good? Watch what happens when you do a kind thing for a special one, family, friend, colleague or stranger. Know why you did the kind thing, what are your thoughts and how did it make you feel, in the lead up and after. Did you want to do it, felt obligated, manipulated or expected something in return.
Your act of kindness is true for you, when there is no taint.

“Kind hearts are the gardens, kind thoughts are the roots, kind words are the flowers, kind deeds are the fruits, take care of your garden and keep out the weeds, fill it with sunshine, kind words and kind deeds.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Key: Kind to Breathe

Is about how you breathe in your emotional wellbeing, you are the one you need to be able to trust and depend on.

How do you connect with your breath?
Do you have kind words for yourself?
Are your thoughts filled with care and consideration for yourself?
How can being kind to yourself benefit you?
How do you think about yourself in the past, present and future?

To experience this key, sit and take deep breathes in a quiet space and think about how you talk to yourself. Expectations, perfectionism and delusions can warp your sense of self. Speak to yourself with kindness and respect; be supportive and realistic. If hard and unkind thoughts come in understand that you are hurting yourself. Think it through, challenge the dialogue, break it apart, are they your words or could they have been put there at another time by someone else or nonsensical situations. Think of yourself as your best friend, take care of you.

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” Oprah Winfrey

Key: Breathe and Feel

Is about how you can use your breath as support to examine your physical feelings when you think about matters of concern.

How do you feel when you breathe? Take a breath now.
When you breathe is it complete? (all the way through your body)
When concentrating on breathing how does your mind and body feel?
Can you use your breath to clear your mind?
How does your body feel after concentrating on your breathing?

To experience this key, sit in a secure position and take deep breathes. Get a rhythm going by breathing slowly in through the nose and out of the mouth. Let all thoughts drift away, as you breathe into your body let the air flow through every part, see it as strengthening and supporting. Once you feel that you are ready let something that is concerning you come into your mind. Let this thought travel to your body, do you feel it in a particular place or all over? Deliberately breathe into where you feel it, and then breathe it out, repeat until you feel the urgency go.

“When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” The 14th Dalai Lama

Key: Feel to Open

Is about how you open and connect with the present moment of your experience.

Be aware of yourself right now.
How do you feel?
Do your feelings and thoughts flow freely?
How do you feel and connect in everyday situations?
Do your thoughts and feelings seem connected?

To experience this key, stand in an open place, inside or outside, let your glaze roam around. Don’t let any opinions, judgements or memories take hold of your thoughts, just observe. If predicable thoughts about what you see come to mind, notice what they are and push them away. Bring your thoughts and feelings together by following these directions.

Breathe deeply into your experience, let your body settle into itself, arms loosely by your side, feet firmly planted, head poised upon your shoulders, feel your strength and open yourself to the experience of being. Open in feelings, flexible in thought, strong in presence.

“An open mind is like an open window. It lets the fresh air in.”
Mike Hernacki

Key: Open in Belief

Is about how you experience the wisdom of your own mind.

What is your belief in life?
How would you benefit from being more open in your beliefs?
How do you respond to others beliefs in their lives?
How would you wish to be more open in discussions?
Do you block others from being open with you and how do you do this?

To experience this key, listen to your mind and follow, in our consciousness we have the ability to guide ourselves in our best direction. Think of moments when you have a thought that seemingly came from nowhere that advised you of the best course of action. Open in belief, you have the knowledge that is needed to make the best decision.

Connect and listen with your mind, how is it advising you, how are you listening, write down your wisdoms and truths, start with reflecting on previous examples and then begin to notice, listen and respond.

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”
Frank Lloyd Wright

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