Co-Creation, Mind Control, and Subjective Reality

August 18th, 2011 by Steve Pavlina

I often prep for upcoming workshops by walking around my house talking out loud, as if I’m speaking to an audience. It’s not the ideas I’m trying to polish though. I do this to get better at being in the flow of inspiration as I communicate, maintaining the right balance of head and heart. Inevitably I’ll express the ideas differently at the actual workshop, but the flow of inspiration will feel similar to what I practiced in private.

This inspired vibe has many forms, which include aspects like caring, playfulness, happiness, passion, curiosity, exploration, love, and oneness. There are countless ways to be in the flow. The common element is that when I’m in the flow, I feel open, connected, and graceful.

It took years of public speaking practice to reach the point where I could experience this flow consistently while in front of an audience. When I first began on this path, I started as many others do. I focused on the words I was saying. I learned to write speeches. Then I learned how to deliver what I’d prepared.

I attended workshops on how to improve at writing and delivering speeches. I networked with successful speakers. I got involved in Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association.

I also stretched myself by competing in speech contests, winning several of them. I did comedy improv for a few months and performed in a couple shows. I kept pushing myself to get better.

In the long run, however, I found this approach to public speaking to be a dead end for me. It always felt a bit unnatural for me. This style of speaking, while very popular and well developed, was too rigid and controlled for me. I can’t speak like that and be in the flow of inspiration at the same time.

My message is about waking up to conscious growth, to live more truthfully, lovingly, and powerfully. It’s not a message just for me. It’s a message for all of us. It’s not a message of words. It’s a message of being.

The particular words I use to deliver this message aren’t as important as I was led to believe. I sure have written plenty of words so far, and I’m always coming up with new ones. If I’m delivering this message to an audience, what I say isn’t critical. I find that the most important factor is who I am when I’m on the stage.

Public Speaking as a Co-Created Experience

If I’m speaking to an audience, delivering a well-written and polished speech, but internally I’m focusing most of my energy on remembering what to say and do at each step, then what is the audience’s role in that speech?

I’ve seen many speeches that seemed excellent from a technical standpoint, but I didn’t feel the speaker was actually present in the room with us. His/her energy was focused on what to say next… or what gesture to make… or where to move on the stage so as to use the whole speaking area… or perhaps on appearing confident. On the whole I don’t enjoy such speeches, and I prefer not to watch speakers who communicate like that.

When I’m really in the flow of communicating with an audience, I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say next. I’ll have an idea of what I’m going to talk about, but I’m not really giving a speech. The experience is much more interactive. It feels like my energy combines with that of the audience, and I become a conduit for the flow of a co-created experience.

This might sound chaotic at first, but it works well in practice… perhaps because when people come together for a workshop or presentation, they’re showing up with similar assumptions, expectations, and desires. People typically attend my workshops because they want to grow, and so our collective energy co-creates a growth experience for the group. Everyone wants that to happen, and so it does.

I’ve done 5 Conscious Growth Workshops so far (with a 6th one coming up in 4 weeks), and each one has been unique. I do continue to improve the structure each time, but I believe that most of the difference in how these workshops turn out has to do with the particular energy of each group. Every audience broadcasts a collective energy, and it’s a different broadcast each time.

While I understand that for many people, public speaking seems like a frightening thing to do, for me it’s a very beautiful and harmonious experience. This is probably because I don’t see the audience as being opposed to me in any way. We come together with a common purpose — to create a powerful growth experience for all. So we’re all on the same page. I want to be a good facilitator, and the audience wants me to have a good experience. So what is there to be nervous or worried about? A workshop is not a performance; it’s a stimulating group adventure.

I understand pretty well how this co-creative model works in the area of public speaking. I think it’s why I enjoy speaking so much and why I find it so rewarding. Lately I’ve been pondering how to expand this co-creative model and apply it to other parts of my life as well.

Co-Creation vs. Domination and Submission

Last year I shared some ideas on domination and submission and how it applies to personal growth. While this can be practiced as a sexual thing, it’s really a general pattern of relating. If you tell someone what to do and they do it, you’ve dominated them. If the opposite happens, you’re practicing submission. Don’t get hung up on the words — it’s the underlying concepts that matter, not the words used to describe them.

You can use domination or submission patterns in any part of your life. You can relate to others by trying to dominate them or by submitting to them. A boss tends to be a dominant figure in many organizations, one that employees are expected to submit to. You can use a dominant parenting style by controlling your kids and telling them what to do. When dealing with a gun-wielding law enforcement agent, you might find yourself taking on a more submissive role.

Co-creation, on the other hand, is a more cooperative approach. Parties combine their power to create something together, with neither submitting to the will of the other. In a way you could say that all parties agree to submit themselves to the collective will, but no one is personally in charge of the collective.

I’m not suggesting that one model is superior to the other. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. In urgent situations a command-based approach may be important — there may be little time for discussion when fast, decisive action is required. It makes sense for the surgeon to be the boss of the operating room when a critically injured patient is on the table, and time is of the essence.

In other situations a collaborative approach may produce superior results. To continue the medical example, multiple doctors may confer about a patient’s care, potentially coming up with better treatment options than any one of them might have chosen individually.

I’ve explored the D/s pattern enough to see that it does have value, but my interest in focusing on it has basically run its course, and now I’m drawn to explore a co-creative model. Since I love immersive experiences, I’ve already stepped into that space this week and plan to continue with this direction for quite a while. I want to deepen my understanding of co-creation through direct experience and see what it’s capable of.

Subjective Reality and Co-Creation

Since I’ve been getting incredible mileage from exploring subjective reality, naturally I want to explore how co-creation and subjective reality can mesh with each other.

At first glance it may appear that subjective reality is in conflict with the idea of co-creation. If you create your reality, and if there’s only one consciousness, then how can we talk about multiple consciousnesses creating something collectively? Does that even make sense within a subjective universe? Isn’t there only one being, and how can you co-create with just one entity?

I understand these concerns, but there are easy ways to resolve them. Remember that subjective reality is not a truth per se — it’s just a perspective, a lens through which you can look at truth. It isn’t difficult for the subjective lens to include a co-creative aspect.

Clues from Lucid Dreaming

For me the major clues regarding how to connect the dots between subjective reality and co-creation came from lucid dreaming. I’ve had many more lucid dreams this year, i.e. dreams where I’m conscious and aware that I’m dreaming, so I’ve been doing further experimenting along these lines.

If you’re having a nighttime dream, would you say there are multiple consciousnesses in the dream, or is it all just you? I imagine you’ll probably agree that there’s ultimately just one consciousness there, and it’s yours. You’re the dreamer of course.

What are the other dream characters? Do they have independent will separate from your own? You’d probably say that they don’t. At best these characters may represent different parts of your psyche. Since the whole dream world is playing out in your mind, everything in it is coming from you.

Those who believe that the objective lens is the only truth would probably agree on this much. They’d probably say that the whole dream is due to a pattern of neurons firing in your physical brain, and therefore everything in the dream world is coming from within your brain. So of course the dream characters don’t really have a consciousness that’s separate from yours.

That said, I’ve had some fairly interesting experiences involving a certain aspect of lucid dreaming — trying to mind control the other dream characters.

You might think that if you get really good at lucid dreaming, you should eventually be able to mind control your dream characters perfectly. What’s to prevent you from controlling them just as easily as you control your own avatar? After all, the dream body you have isn’t the real you. It’s just a mental projection. So are all the other dream characters. So it seems reasonable that you might develop the skill to control the other dream characters, willing them to do your bidding however you see fit. If there’s some mechanism to prevent you from doing this, it’s not clear what that would be. The main limitation seems to be just developing the skill to do it, just as you’d develop any other lucid dreaming skill.

As I tried to further develop this ability in my lucid dreams, I noticed that while I could successfully mind control other dream characters, it wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be. It takes a lot of concentration to bend a character to my will, and on some level it feels like the character is resisting being controlled. As soon as I have a lapse in concentration, that character breaks free for a bit and stops following my mental commands.

I called Erin and asked her about her experiences in this area since she’s been lucid dreaming much longer than I have. She reported similar results, and she added that it feels like the other dream characters are pre-programmed to do certain things. If you try to mind control them, you can, but as soon as you let up or lose concentration, those characters’ original programming reasserts itself, and they continue following their previous scripts. Erin suggested that the resistance may come from the characters being programmed to play out a certain storyline, and when you try to mind control them, you mess up the storyline to an extent.

Erin also said that it’s possible to take control of the whole dream and to essentially wipe out the pre-programmed story. When she does that, she says it’s much easier to mind control the other characters. They no longer have a scripted routine to return to. I haven’t tried wiping out the entire dream story, but what Erin described is consistent with my own experience.

Now the interesting part is that waking reality seems to work in much the same way. If you try to control other people, then to a certain extent, they let you. Perhaps you don’t do this through the same mechanism of telepathic mind control, but you can just as easily develop the skill of influencing others, essentially using your will to override their previous behaviors for a while. It’s not that difficult to knock someone out of their pre-programmed script for a while.

Hitler and the Nazis are one potent example of this phenomenon. Since then there have been some intense psychological experiments demonstrating just how easy it is to control and direct people. Perhaps the most notable would be the Milgram Shock Experiments during the 1960s. If you aren’t familiar with them, I encourage you to follow the link and read up on them. These experiments have been repeated numerous times with similar results.

If we commit to doing so, we are indeed capable of dominating and controlling others, and to a great extent, they’ll let us. Similarly there’s also a part of us that’s eager to submit to authority. Start noticing how often you tell people what to do, and they obey you. And also notice how often people tell you what to do, and you obey them.

Become aware of all the subtle ways the command and control model comes up each day. When you get an email and you reply to it, you’re doing someone else’s bidding. If they hadn’t sent you that message, you’d have directed your time elsewhere.

What I’ve observed regarding how dream characters react to being dominated aligns pretty well with how waking characters respond. They may offer token resistance, but they also bend to the dominant will most of the time. When the dominant will is relaxed, the character return to their previous scripts for the most part.

So how might we use this to connect the dots between subjective reality and co-creation?

One Model of Co-Creation

If we assume, as Erin suggested, that our dream characters aren’t really conscious and are just following something akin to a pre-programmed script, then one way of explaining co-creation in a dream world is this:

The other dream characters aren’t really conscious, but they’re pre-programmed with a storyline to follow. This storyline is a higher level construct, one created by our subconscious. When we dominate or mind control other characters, we knock them off script, which can throw off the unfolding story. Yes, we have the power to do this, but perhaps it’s better to go with the flow of the story (or the dream) and see where it leads. Perhaps there’s a purpose to the story that we should listen to and understand.

If we apply a subjective reality lens to our waking world, we could suggest a similar interpretation. The other people walking around aren’t separate conscious beings, but they’re pre-programmed to help create a certain storyline. This story isn’t something we’ve consciously created per se. It’s being created by our subconscious. While we can control people by exerting our dominant will, we may mess up the story when we do so. It’s preferable to allow the other characters to follow their intended scripts, so we can better understand where the story is going and flow with it.

What is co-creation then? Co-creation is cooperation with our subconscious. To co-create is to align ourselves with the unfolding story. The other characters all represent different parts of us. They may not be independent, fully conscious beings, but they are pre-programmed with certain behaviors because it’s part of the storyline. We can resist their behaviors and try to change them, but ultimately this may corrupt the storyline. If we really don’t like where the story is going, we always have the power to consciously step in and take control and redirect a given scene, but perhaps it’s best to let the story unfold as it will and to play our own part in alignment with what the other characters are doing.

To co-create with this model is to acknowledge that a story is indeed unfolding in this reality, and we’re all characters within it. Every character has value because each one contributes something to the story. So this form of co-creation isn’t necessarily something we must do in terms of adopting different behaviors. It’s more of a general attitude of cooperation… of valuing what the simulation is playing out and flowing with it. In other words, sit back and enjoy the ride, and don’t resist what’s happening.

There is some value in this perspective, but overall it’s not my preferred model to use for co-creation. It seems a bit too passive, and it also paints the other characters as little more than automatons or NPCs.

Another Model of Co-Creation

Instead of using scripts and programming to describe how people behave, we could also say while deep down there may be just one creator in this reality, everyone is a part of that creator, just as each cell in your body is a part of the greater whole.

So co-creation is simply consciousness collaborating within itself. Just as you may have a discussion with yourself, listening to the different voices within you in order to come to a decision, you can do the same with other people, and it’s essentially the same process.

You enjoy inner harmony when your different facets are in agreement — your thoughts, words, and deeds are congruent. Similarly, you create outer harmony when the people in your life are mutually supporting one another.

External co-creation is really the same thing as doing inner creative work. In order to create anything, you must somehow get all the different parts of yourself to agree upon what to do at any given time. If your mind wants to write, sleep, eat, and go to the bathroom all at the same time, you’ll just spin in circles.

While you can use a domination-based model to get yourself to take action, it tends not to be very sustainable in the long run. Just like mind controlling other dream characters, it requires intense concentration. As soon as your attention lapses, slippage occurs. In practice it’s difficult to maintain this state for long.

With this model the focus is on creating harmony. Forward action requires cooperation, whether it’s internal cooperation or external cooperation.

In this case we wouldn’t say that other people have a separate consciousness per se, but then neither does your avatar. There is still just one consciousness, and the different human beings within it are projections of the different aspects of that consciousness. So they’re not separate consciousnesses, but they are all conscious… just as your fingers aren’t distinct human beings, but they’re still human.

So to subjectively co-create with other people doesn’t imply that we’re all distinct conscious beings. We’re all individual projections of different aspects of consciousness. Co-creation is the process by which consciousness establishes harmony within itself.

Your avatar is a vehicle for creating that harmony. Instead of passively watching the story play out, you can exert some influence over the storyline. You get to be part producer and part audience member.

To co-create is to influence the other aspects of consciousness, to discover where we can agree, and then to leverage that agreement to develop and release a more powerful aspect of the story.

Exploring Co-Creation

For years I’ve been practicing a model of conscious creation that involves setting goals and achieving them, or setting intentions and manifesting them. This model is effective — it works.

I’d also like to practice co-creation, to see what can be created when two or more people contribute to a goal or intention that goes beyond what either of them would have chosen individually.

Co-creation is more than just teamwork. One person can come up with a goal and assemble a team to work together to achieve that goal. Co-creation, however, is when the team comes up with the goal as well. So the goal isn’t handed down from above.

Co-creation occurs from the idea stage onward, so even the starting idea is worked through collaboratively. If I already know what my goal or intention is in advance, or if some other individual does, then most likely we have one person submitting to another person’s direction. A co-creative team comes up with its own projects.

With co-creation you don’t even know what the goal or intention will be in advance. That’s something to be worked out collaboratively. Each person can suggest ideas and bounce them off each other, but the point isn’t for one person to convince the other that any particular idea is best. The idea is for all involved to collectively reach an agreement that everyone willingly commits themselves to.

Co-Creation and Relationships

While I could apply this model to my business (and I’ve already started doing so, with some cool new ideas percolating), I’m actually more interested in applying it to my social life first. Due to the highly social nature of co-creation, this just makes sense to me. But in practice I have to be more flexible than this because you never know where co-creation will lead. So my social life is merely a place to get started.

Because it’s uncommon to consciously co-create our connections with others (we normally do so unconsciously), we often fall into the domination-submission realm in terms of how these interactions play out. One person decides what they want and then seeks to get the other person to go along with it. This works to some extent, but as with mind controlling a dream character, it normally meets with some resistance.

In situations where I’ve already been using a co-creative model, the results have been promising. My workshops are a good example. I don’t feel overwhelmed or overloaded there. We create a certain energy that seems to keep things pretty balanced and harmonious. I think the face-to-face feedback helps as well. People tend to be open and friendly but also respectful of the fact that I can’t have 5 conversations all at the same time. I don’t need a list of rules telling people what’s okay or not okay. Within the environment that we create, people tend to be pretty socially graceful. You might say that it’s because of the face-to-face element, but I see this online in some places too, such as with my Google+ interactions.

I do believe it’s possible to co-create with large groups, but it may be more difficult to get everyone to agree. Take note that this isn’t the same thing as dominating and controlling large groups, such as Hitler did. My workshops attract people with common interests, so it makes sense that co-creation can gain a foothold there. But with more diverse groups, it could be more challenging.

Consequently, I’m going to focus for now on co-creating with individuals and very small groups, such as my existing friends. I probably won’t have time to try this with everyone right out of the gate, but I think it would be rewarding and enlightening to have a discussion with a friend about how each of us would like to see our connection evolve, then to see what we can agree upon, and then to commit ourselves to that co-created vision of where our relationship will go next. And then of course we have to keep adjusting our vision as we grow and change, so it doesn’t go stale.

I already did some of this with Rachelle yesterday. We had a deep discussion about what we want to create next in our relationship. Instead of only discussing what we each want as individuals, we tried to gain a sense of what we could co-create that would inspire both of us. I think that individual desires are necessary because they provide fuel for the collective vision, but then you have to let others’ desires combine with yours to create something together, something that goes beyond what either of you would have come up with individually.

This morning I had another experience while talking to a business partner. Going into the call, we had two separate projects to discuss, one of his and one of mine, but after we’d talked for a bit, he suggested a creative way to combine them. I instantly liked the idea, recognizing it as something that would be good for everyone. We agreed to make it so immediately, and now we’re already moving forward with it. It was a very fast way to work out a win-win arrangement. The best part is that this will ultimately produce something that’s free for everyone but which will also benefit our respective businesses, so it isn’t just a win for the two of us but also for everyone else who will be affected by it.

A Co-Creative Attitude

At the individual level, you may set goals and intentions based on what you desire.

A co-creation attitude is all about win-win. It isn’t just about what’s good for you. It’s about what’s good for everyone. You can co-create at the level of determining what’s good for the team, or you can co-create as Marc Allen recommends — for the highest good of all.

My experience on this path is pretty limited since I’m just getting started with it, but I can already see that the energy signature of co-creation is different than the one I’m accustomed to with traditional goal setting or intention-manifestation.

Co-creation requires a more flexible attitude. It’s important to bring your own desires to the table, but then you must be willing to allow the energy of others’ desires to merge with your own, so that you eventually come to form an intention or goal that everyone loves.

I’m looking forward to talking with more friends to discuss what we might co-create together next. It’s too early to say what the results will be, but I’m pretty optimistic about it thus far, and the few interactions I’ve had with this mindset in the past couple days have all been great.

I feel this is a good time for me to get started on this path, but I can’t predict where it will lead. To be truly co-creative as opposed to dominant, I have to open myself to seeing my relationships evolve in ways I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen on my own.

I’m not treating this as a 30-day trial since I expect it will take considerably longer to explore it, but it does feel a little like embarking on a new 30-day trial where I don’t know what the outcome will be.

I’ll surely be sharing more about subjective reality and co-creation at the upcoming Subjective Reality Workshop in October, which already has dozens of people signed up for it, but I also expect that I’ll blog about new insights along the way.



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