Access Alternatives

This practice helps you break out of closed patterns of thinking to allow contrary ways to consider something, rather than just what you consider the right or perfect way. You can do this any way you’d like—with or without a poker table, quickly or in a longer meditation. It will help you with almost anything, from making big decisions to relaxing and being in the now. (See all Practices.)

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Imagine a room set up for a late night poker game. There is a table in the center with poker chips, drinks, and whatever munchies you’d like.

Now, allow the alternatives you’re considering to drift in as players assembling at the table. There will be one dominant player, a loud and sassy one who postures quite a bit and wears a funny hat. This player is the most obvious alternative that you are starting with. He is going to ante up many chips. And he is the one you want to take to the bank.

The other players will ante up, too, and provide alternatives that you have not considered. They are your contradictory thoughts, saying, “That’s not the winning hand, mine is!” They might say, “Trust us! We represent a beautiful set of probabilities that you may enjoy much more than his. For god’s sake, why would you consider trusting a guy wearing a hat like that?!”

There are potentially infinite numbers of hands—or probabilities—worth considering, and some of them will certainly beat the funny hat player’s hand. Each player bets that you will be happier with their alternative. They will also come up with alternatives that you are not yet aware of.

Now, as you allow your players to inform you of more alternatives, you will notice that one of them has a winning hand. It is perhaps the most wonderful thing you might ever consider, but because you were so distracted by the loud, sassy player attached to the bottom of the hat, you were unable to even see it before.

It doesn’t matter which player wins because you are only considering probabilities. You are always the winner. You will always take home all the chips, munchies and beers, and free yourself of the need to invest in any one player or another. You are the chips. You are the players. You are all of the probabilities. So it is incumbent upon you to allow anything to happen because you will be the one who experiences it, and you must not consider one set of potentials too strongly because it prevents you from being in the now.

After you have cleared the table, rest in your awareness without giving too much energy to one particular future outcome or another. With practice, you will be able to do this without the need for the poker table, but this is entirely up to you. We expect you to, in any case, be the winner of every game!