Amy Johnson is a coach and speaker who helps people have a more joyful experience of life. She is the author of two books, Being Human: Essays on Thoughtmares, Bouncing Back, and Your True Nature and Modern Enlightenment: Psychological, Spiritual, and Practical Ideas for a Better Life.
Amy is currently writing a book about the ending unwanted habits using the latest thinking in neuroscience and spirituality, which will be published in December 2015.
We decided to invite Amy Johnson for an interview about her book “Being Human”, because we really loved reading her wonderful and insightful collection of essays and conversations with clients.
“You are innately well – you always have been and always will be. If you’re not experiencing wellness, you are innocently lost in a thick fog of thought.”
Interview with Amy Johnson
Dirk Terpstra: Your book is actually a series of short essays and conversations with clients. Why did you choose to write it this way?
Amy Johnson: Honestly, because it was easy. It’s just a way that I process it, because I am talking to clients all day, every day and themes come out of that and I thought: “Oh, here is an idea that I think could help people, let me tell the story of what just happened”. So that’s a part of it and I just like to write like that because I don’t have a huge attention span or a lot of time to work on the same piece for weeks, I prefer the short punchy ones.
Dirk: The foundation of your book is the knowing that our default, our innate nature, of all human beings is wellbeing. Although this is a powerful insight, and this is what you also write in your book, there is a difference between intellectually understanding something and truly getting it as a personal truth. How do we get from one to the other?
Amy: That’s a great question, it really is kind of the question and I think that a lot of us do get it intellectually but I think the way that you see how deeply you get it, in a sense is just by how you’re living your life, like: “how easy is life”? That doesn’t mean that life for anyone is easy all the time or that it should always be wonderful. We’re not saying any of that.
Human beings have a whole range of emotions, even the really enlightened ones. We all suffer at times, it’s part of being human. The more we intrinsically, insightfully see like “oh yeah, I am okay, this stuff is happening out here and I am on this roller coaster but where I really am is okay”. That just brings us the ease to life. We do find ourselves scrambling less to do things and we do find ourselves to do things more with a sense of humor and just enjoying the lightness in life.
That’s not really answering your question of “how do we move there”, but it’s sort of like “how do we know?” How do we know how deeply we’re getting at? Well just look at how life feels to you. What to do when life feels really hard? It’s about being open. I don’t know if there’s a tool or technique or anything like that for it, but it’s more like an energy, a spirit of being open and seeing it more deeply.
We’re always seeing at varying levels. I am certainly not always seeing it in this deep and profound way and I don’t know anyone who’s always seeing it that way. But when you know that you have it in an intellectual sense, saying: “Yes, there’s more for me to get here, there’s more for me to see here. I know I can’t go pluck it off a tree and I can’t buy it at the store, but I do know it’s there and I am just going to open my mind and my heart to it”. I found that you do tend to see things like that when you have an open stance.
Dirk: In your book you write that you have been very inspired during an ‘Innate Health Conference’ by various principles that were laid out to you. Can you tell me a bit more about these principles?
Amy: It’s more of a feeling and when people try to describe those principles, they talk about the fact that our default nature is wellness, that all we’re ever experiencing is our own thinking.
If I had to describe it, I would say that it is a decryption of how the human experience works. It’s a decryption that shows us that what we’re experiencing all the time is our own thought and that there’s something bigger than our own thinking that’s powering the whole thing. It’s plugged in somewhere, and that source of power is what they call ‘mind’ in these principles, but it’s universal energy, it’s love, it’s everything that we can’t see and touch. What I get from the whole field that it’s just a feeling, it’s an inside knowing that all is well and that whenever we feel that we’re not well, we’re just being human, we’re just human beings who think. That’s all what’s happening.
I was very inspired by these principles and about the idea that we really are always well and it’s so funny to me, even that that caught me off guard – I’ve been studying spiritual stuff for years and I sort of knew that, I would tell people that, and I was wondering why this felt so different but there was something new in it that caught me in a different way or maybe I just saw it more deeply. If I have to put words around it I think that it is that we’re always well but for our thinking. And that’s across the globe – every human on earth is mentally healthy but for our current moment thinking.
Dirk: Your kids are often part of the stories that you write. What are the most important lessons that your kids have taught you so far?
Amy: It’s so amazing to see them just enjoying life. It’s so cliche, but really to see that they get so excited that there is a duck in our front yard this morning, the excitement over this duck I can’t even tell you. Things like that are so cool. They just never get sidetracked for too long by their own stuff. They can get really upset at times, like all kids do, but they don’t scramble to get out of it or try make sense of it. They just have this knowing, you see it in their eyes: “it’s going to be okay”, even as upset as they are, there’s a part of them that goes through their upset and then they just sit back and wait and it’s like they implicitly know “okay I am going to get bounced back into a better feeling at some point”. They don’t say that but you can feel that they sort of know it. My oldest is four now and she will hold on longer than my three year old and you just see that she gets touched by society a little bit. It is so fascinating to see all this and the lightness and humour that they have.
Dirk: When you write about the importance of an ’empty future’, what message do you want to bring across?
Amy: An empty future means to me that our mental, our internal slate is always wiping clear. In each moment we are starting fresh – the slate is wiping clear and we’re not affected by the past per se. It’s just that we have a memory, so we bring thoughts and stuff from the past with us all the time. And again, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s human and we’re never going to avoid it but it is really fascinating to see that that’s what we’re doing – to get a glimpse of how this really operates and to see that that’s going on. Every time we wake up and we feel similar to how we did yesterday, a lot of that is because we’re bringing yesterday with us to some extend. And when you know that it does bring a different quality, it clears it out a little bit.
It’s all about ‘seeing how it works’. The truth of it is that we do have an empty future, that’s a possibility to us when we’re not lost in our own thoughts. Even on a daily basis seeing that there are times that we’re pretty preoccupied in our own heads and there are times that we are less so. And when we’re less so, the future looks more empty. It looks like we can do anything. You can put anything you want there – A new thought is coming up and going into the future, but when we’re really preoccupied, the future is like done, it’s almost like it’s already over, because we think we already know how it is going to look, it’s just a busy mind that’s doing that to us.
Dirk: Once we begin to understand that we are always fine and that nothing can change our basic nature, we could use some practical exercises to really get to that place. What would be your favourite tips or exercises to let go of those emotions and hard wired thought patterns in order to get to a place of pure wellbeing?
Amy: The best tip I can think of is to really look back at all of the times when we have been bounced back to our wellbeing. The more we look, the more we see it and it really is happening all the time but we’re just not really noticing it.
You might want to try to look at the past few days how you’ve been. Have you been in a bad mood, did you have a particular thought that is nagging at you and what did you have to do and what was it to get rid of it? People usually say “well nothing, I just started working with you today, I didn’t have any exercises and it’s gone”.
Our moods come and they leave, it happens naturally. It’s really this river that’s flowing and you don’t have to do anything to keep the river flowing. And when we look and see “Oh yes, there’s this river that is always flowing and it was working for me here, my wellbeing showed up in this situation or my wellbeing showed up in that situation to no effort of my own” then you just wake up to it.
Our wellbeing is just there, we don’t have to make it show up, it’s just that we don’t always see it. The more we look, the more we see it. You might create logjams in that river, but the river will always be flowing and we can definitely be in the way by taking our thinking very seriously, not really seeing that we live in a world of thought – a thought-created experience, and assuming that everything in our head is true and trying to step in and fix things. Because the more you get that this river is always flowing, if it slows down a little bit one day, there’s nothing you have to do to fix it. It will pick up the next day. Nature regulates itself and we’re all part of nature, so we’re self-correcting and self-regulating in all of that as well.
To purchase a copy of “Being Human”, please click on the book image. For more information, please visit Amy’s website: dramyjohnson.com
INTERVIEW BY: DIRK TERPSTRA – SOUL LOVE FOUNDER