The Nine Tiles

The core contents of this blog, distilled from the work I have done over the last 20 years, make up nine areas. Those areas, or Tiles as they are depicted, guide you through what you will encounter – or what you need to be aware of – as you write your daily journal of observations.

Each tile carries a short description along with three Elements; three simple words which add a level of detail to the main title. In turn, each element is supported by a number of related blog posts, bringing further explanation. It doesn’t stop there, because that first tranche of blog entries opens up to even more levels in the form of related posts.

Given the various layers and detail available for exploration into all aspects of the journaling experience, the nine tiles are a straightforward yet rich distillation of the whole adventure. They summarise what you need to know in a very simple way. But there is an even simpler breakdown.

The first 8 Tiles are all about writing stuff down and what happens when you do that. But the main instruction remains: Write stuff down! That’s all you need to remember. The rest – the tiles and the elements – will happen anyway. Refer to them from time to time because they will help you on your way, but the only thing you have to do is write. In time you will create your own instruction manual – a reference book based on your observations of yourself, your life and your world; and what you need to do to get the best out of who you are.

Tile 9 by contrast, is all about what happens when you go beyond the writing. And there you will find an even easier instruction: Let stuff go! It’s all about taking what you have written and releasing yourself from it. When you do that you discover the power of silence and emptiness, and you begin to glimpse your true self, which is awareness itself. Again, there are levels of detail involved, but the only thing you need to remember is to let go.

Therefore, to summarise almost 20 years of work, gathered in 165 specifically chosen posts, sourced from over 1100 blog entries (half of which appear in my own 650-page book), the two main instructions are these:

  • Write stuff down
  • Let stuff go

Remember those two things, put them into practice every day of your life, and watch what happens. You will be amazed. After years of doing the former, and renewed attempts to do the latter, I am repeatedly astonished at how simple it is, how beautiful it is, and how powerfully it all works.

Related posts: Write Stuff Down | Write & Become More Aware | Reflection Of What’s There | Written Evidence of Learning | Let Go | Drop Everything For A Moment | Letting Go On The Bridge | No Past, No Future, Just Today | TS 16 – What Happens When We Let Go? | Let Go. Be Empty.



Tile 1 – The Basics

Discover the insights and learning in every experience.

AWARENESS is the beginning. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built. Ultimately, what is required is a desire to seek the truth, no matter how challenging that might be. As soon as we see clearly what is there, things begin to shift, and we start to glimpse something greater than we could ever imagine

OBSERVATION. To observe oneself is the simplest of exercises. It is liberating, requires no effort, and can be practised at any time. Purposeless observation – without any analysis – means you have no attachment to what you are seeing. Without expectation, seeking nothing, and with no obligation to do anything with what you see. Simplicity itself.

REFLECTION. Written reflection fosters a thorough consideration of our reality. It invites us – always – to look more closely at the detail of who we are. The closer and more often we look, the more we see; and the clearer we see it because with repeated investigation our reflection becomes more polished, leading inevitably to closer observation and greater awareness.

Awareness Is The Key (p.12) | It Begins With Awareness | The ‘How’ Is Unimportant (p.17) | Write Stuff Down (p.327) | Write & Become More Aware | What Should I Write? | Simply Observe (p.100) | Heisenberg, Observation & Growth (p.71) | One Simple Observation (p.118) | Observation As The Gateway | Reflection Of What’s There | Childish Learning | Read The Instructions | Made Beautiful By Reflection (p.366) | Go Further, Go Deeper


Tile 2 – See Clearly

Everything comes into sharper focus as you begin to see your self more clearly.

HABITS form because we’ve been doing the same things for years, acting out patterns of behaviour our entire lives. Do things often enough and they begin to occur automatically, unconsciously, creating familiar situations with familiar outcomes. Which is why it’s necessary to look closely in order to see them clearly.

PATTERNS. A pattern begins life as a strategy. The strategy starts with a desire. Over time, patterns establish themselves as a part of our personality, creating the impression that we have always been like that, when the truth is more likely that we have adopted and reinforced particular ways of behaving over the course of our lifetime.

CONDITIONING. Our behaviour has been instilled in us by our culture, imposed on us by society, passed down by our family and established by us according to the Script (TA) we have written for ourselves. Growth depends on us examining our conditioning, and then actively choosing to retain it, modify it, or drop it altogether.

Shut Up & Listen | Nature Or Habit? | Make Sure You’re Okay (p.552) | Work On Yourself | Creating A New Habit | Use Whatever You Learn | People’s Patterns | A Pattern’s Course (p.397) | It’s Easier To Look At Yourself (p.170) | Make Yourself (Happy) (p.189) | Changing Patterns (p.150) | I’ll Make It (p.415) | The Ivy Of Conditioning (p.486) | Thoughts on Conditioning (p.98) | Cultural Conditioning (p.92) | It’s My Script (p.50) | Genes, Memes & Then What?


Tile 3 – Get Going

Take control of your development by initiating and guiding change.

STRATEGIES. We all need effective strategies to help us deal with life. They are vital to our survival and they contribute to our success. Life is about defining what we want and seeking the best strategies. As we search, we must be humble enough to question our existing strategies, re-examining them as we go.

TOOLS. The focus should be on empowering yourself to discover your own tools. Find out what works for you. Use other people’s ideas, experiment with your own. Do whatever it takes to make sure you are able to practise (daily) whatever you need to do to move yourself forward. It’s easier than you think.

PROCEDURES are simply a plan you put in place to deal with your patterns. They are the steps you take to turn things around. As with the tools, try different things. Try anything, and keep trying until you find something which lessens the pattern’s impact and allows you to do the things you need to do.

Survival & Growth (p.30) | Better Strategies (p.130) | Switching To Manual (p.387) | Find A Way To Open The Valve | Why We Need Boundaries | Use Life To Make Life EasierBe Kind To Yourself | Acceptance & Permission (p.462) | Make Your Own Tools (p.480) | Talk To Yourself | Tell Yourself A Story | Write Your Own Feedback (p.481) | Make A Connection (p.76) | Yes, It Is That Simple | Patterns, Procedures & Routines (p.460) | Self-Doubt & Emergency Procedures (p.558) | Astonishingly Simple | To Serve (p.376)


Tile 4 – Fine Tuning

Attain a finer appreciation of what is required and what’s available.

INTENTION. The concept of intention opens up a whole new world. One in which you have more power than you thought. Moreover, when that power is focused and you understand the process, a calmness descends, allowing you to appreciate a more in-tune version of the world. Clarity of intention can save you a lot of time and effort.

DISCIPLINE is one of the core requirements of personal development. Without it we achieve very little. However, if we have it and we use it, not only does it produce results, it is also a source of empowerment. Luckily, we are more disciplined than we realise. Take one day and look closely at how disciplined you are. You may be surprised.

CALIBRATION. The more familiar you are with your core self, the easier it is to identify and deal with how your direct environment affects you. The more we listen to ourselves and the more we observe, the better we become at discerning when to be confident and when to double check; when to have the courage to speak and when to hold back.

Clarity (p.16) | The Power Of Intention (p.543) | It’s The Thought That Counts | Make It All About You | The Choice Is Always Yours | The Words We Use | We Change The World | The Way of Transformation (p.113) | Discipline | If At First You Don’t Succeed… (p.34) | 300 Days (p.547) | One Thousand Days | In The ZoneControlled Experiments (p.27) | Listen to Yourself (p.289) | A Childlike Curiosity | Calibrate The Machine (p.440) | The Subtlety Of Feeling (p.506) | Internal Dialogues | TS 13 – Feedback EverywhereLook Inside (p.144) | Complete The Picture (p.407) | Olive Oil & Serving Spoons (p.455) | What Exactly Do I Do?


Tile 5 – The Mind

Understand exactly what you are up against, and how you can counter the mind.

MIND. Sort this one out and life becomes much, much easier. Controlling the mind is like taming a wild elephant. It seems impossible but with time and patience it can be achieved. The result is an immensely powerful tool which can be put to constructive use whenever and however you wish. As the old saying goes: ‘The mind is a terrible master, but a wonderful servant.

EVIDENCE. One of the best ways to counter the mind is to gather evidence of who we are. Incontrovertible, undeniable evidence. Evidence of our abilities and qualities, but also of our blind spots and shortfalls. The aim being to know ourselves as fully as possible, as well as to use what we find to counter the voice inside which often wants us to believe something very different.

BREATH represents the here and now. It is the simplest and most powerful tool we have for returning to the present when our mind and emotions are doing all they can to drag us away from a calm, centred reality. When your mind has rule over you, or your emotions have taken hold, the procedure is simple. Ask yourself one question: Am I still breathing?

The Mind (p.59) | How Easily The Mind Goes To Work (p.37) | What We’re Up Against (p.611) | Quietening The Mind (p.330) | It Is What It Is | Think Whatever You Want (p.263) | You Think Too Much | Focus It All Away | Separate Out The Emotions (p.537) | What Are You Going To Do About It? (p.336) | Gathering Evidence (p.224) | Look At The Evidence (p.139) | Prediction (p.36) | Own How Good You Are (p.400) | Confidence & Self-Belief (p.312) | Are You Still Breathing? (p.520) | Relax, Then Relax Some More (p.46) | Forgetting & Remembering | Breathe


Tile 6 – Look Beyond

Notice the effects of your attachments and what happens when you let go.

BELIEFS limit our imagination, thereby making some outcomes much more likely than others. This happens because we allow events to influence us, rather than the other way around. The more limited our beliefs, the less there is for us to enjoy. Let go of the limitations, however, and everything is possible again.

EXPECTATIONS. Nothing you ever achieved came as a result of expectations, but you will certainly have experienced disappointment because they were not met. Expectations are more useless than comparisons, yet they are more prevalent. If you look closely, however, you’ll see that it’s not the expectation which is the problem. It’s the associated attachment.

ATTACHMENT means our emotional state is dependent on the results of future events. We are no longer in control of how we feel. The alternative – non-attachment – means giving everything we have, being fully focused, fully committed, doing our utmost to ensure an appropriate outcome, but not being affected by what happens.

Limited Only By Our Beliefs | You Create Your Reality | Be Careful What You Wish For (p.490) | Choose To Change Your Mind | The Richness Of Not-Knowing | Expectations | Beyond Expectations | Opinions, Judgements & Comparisons | Exploration, Expectation & Non-Attachment (p.95) | Developing Attachment | Distracted By The Shiny Stuff | Let Go (p.117) | Rubbish At Meditation? | Surrender Can Be A Strength (p.448) | No Past, No Future, Just Today (p.472) | Drop Everything For A Moment | Letting Go On The Bridge | Worry, Love & Freedom | Already Perfect


Tile 7 – Keep Going

Internalise the fundamental nature of the work; and take time to see your progress.

PRACTICE. Improvement is only possible through practice. And practice is nothing more than repetition with awareness. We crave novelty and are easily bored by repetition, so when we know that it’s the repetition which fosters progress, it becomes easier to keep going. There is a deep, long-lasting feeling of satisfaction that comes from prolonged and disciplined practice.

PROGRESS. Major change only occurs when you work hard to lay the foundations and build momentum, so it’s important to acknowledge the work you are doing and see the progress you are making. Set yourself more immediate targets and deal with whatever is in front of you. And when you evaluate, look back at where you were a month or a year ago and read the notes you made at the time. (If you didn’t write any, start now.)

FOUNDATIONS. Everything you’ve done up until now is merely the foundation for what you are about to do. Furthermore, whatever foundations you have built so far are only honoured if you keep going. As this line from the post, ‘Meat & Potatoes‘, puts it: ‘The sole purpose of everything up until that point had been to serve what was about to happen.

Life Is Unimaginably Large | TS 4 – Practice, Practice… Breakthrough! | Novelty & Repetition (p.580) | When The Novelty Wears Off | Five Years Later | Begin Again | Better Than Yesterday | Step By Step (p.385) | The Best Time To Plant A Tree | See Your Progress (p.434) | The Exponential Curve (p.444) | Punctuated Equilibrium (p.31) | Progress Report (p.63) | 4 Hours, 4 Weeks, 4 Months (p.436) | Give Yourself Two Years | Meat & Potatoes (p.248) | TS 6 – The Foundations Of SuccessRiding & Surviving The Waves (p.413) | Searching For The Truth (p.137)


Tile 8 – Relax

Learn to relax when you (inevitably) hit a wall and want to give up.

CALMNESS. However hard we’re working, however fast we’re running, it’s always helpful to relax. It’s a difficult skill to master so don’t wait until you really need it. Practice every step of the way. Whatever you’re doing, however stressed you are, and despite the chaos around you, remember to breathe and remember to relax.

PERSISTENCE. Be patient, don’t overdo it, and never give up. Persist even when it seems futile and know that you are closer to a breakthrough than you think. Every day is a chance to establish a routine. Put it off if you want, but at some point you will just have to get on with it. You need to be disciplined, but you will get there.

BREAKTHROUGH. These can come at unexpected times. But what do you do when it feels as though whatever you are facing will go on forever? You relax and you persist because nothing lasts forever. And when you find a way through, you will realise you were closer to a breakthrough than you thought.

Relax, You’re Going As Fast As You Can (p.405) | TS 8 – Relaxation & Balance | Relax, Your Future’s On Its Way (p.498) | Never Give Up (p.94) | Keep Doing What Works (p.361) | Note To Self: Fight | Imagine You’re Already There | The Fork In The Road (p.418) | Close To A Breakthrough (p.399) | It Can Happen In An Instant (p.366) | Just When We Think We’ve Made It | Be Careful So Close To The Finish (p.577) | On The Edge Of A Breakthrough | A Mental Breakthrough | It All Comes Down To This (p.421)


Tile 9 – Back To Awareness

Embody the tranquility and spaciousness of awareness itself.

SILENCE. In the silence, we are all together. It’s a shortcut to a deep connection with humanity; a place where the notion of ‘us & them’ dissolves. It feels like an immense space; an infinity within an infinity. Peace, freedom and expansion are there, too, always available.

EMPTINESS implies nothingness in a world which values the opposite, and so our conditioned response is to reject it. But emptiness is not the absence we think it is. It is a state of peace, free of conditioning, where nothing exists, yet there is everything you need.

AWARENESS. Let go of everything you think you are. What remains is a tranquil emptiness suffused with infinite potential. But that’s not all because what you also notice is that you are aware of those qualities. That is your true self. Awareness is the true self.

Distractions Of The Familiar | Be Quiet, Be Still, & Listen | Inhabiting The Silence | Beyond The Noise | The Silence Was Beautiful | Lead By Example | Get Out Of The Way | The Conclusion Is Emptiness | Effortless & Empty | Let Go. Be Empty. | A Shift Of Perspective | When You Know It’s Possible | Discovering The True Self | Stop Searching, Look Inside | Watch Yourself | Everything Is A Distraction | The Mandala Of Personhood | Observing From The Is-ness | A Tragic Breakthrough | We Are Wonderful. All Of Us.

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