What if our suffering is pointing us toward a deeper truth about how life works?Amanda Jones has lived a life! She was a dancer from a young age, but also suffered with eating disorders, anxiety and depression. She’s now a coach and the author of the book Uncovery, which is a beautiful examination of the very human process of recovery from suffering by understanding how thought works. I was thrilled to have a one-on-one coaching call with Amanda in late 2017 when I enrolled in The Little School of Big Change. It was a delight to talk to her again and learn more about her journey.
Amanda Jones is a former dancer, current coach and an author who explores a deep understanding of how our experience works. The implications of this understanding uncovered freedom from eating disorders, depression, and anxiety after 25 years. Looking at what is behind the curtain of our experiences has proven to be the end of a lifelong search and Amanda shares this exploration with others to help uncover their true nature.
You can listen above or on iTunes or your favorite podcast app or watch the video here. Highlights, notes, resources and full transcript below.
You can find Amanda at UncoverySpace.com
- On what ‘Uncovery’ means to Amanda
- In recovery, waiting for the other shoe to drop OR feeling finally at peace
- On how what we think is triggering us, actually isn’t
- The difference between correlation and causation when it comes to our thoughts
- How events don’t cause the spiritual energy of thought
Resources mention in this episode
Transcript of interview with Amanda Jones
Alexandra: Hi, everyone, I’m Alexandra Amor. This is the “Stop Suffering About” podcast and I’m here today with Amanda Jones. Hi, Amanda.
Amanda: Hi, Alexandra, I’m so happy to be here.
Alexandra: I’m so thrilled to have you here. Thank you so much for joining me. So let me introduce you to our listeners.
Amanda Jones is a former dancer, current coach and an author who explores a deep understanding of how our experience works. The implications of this understanding uncovered freedom from eating disorders, depression, and anxiety after 25 years. Looking at what is behind the curtain of our experiences has proven to be the end of a lifelong search and Amanda shares this exploration with others to help uncover their true nature. So welcome, thanks for being here.
Tell us a little bit more about your journey to finding this understanding.
Amanda: Since a very, very young age kind of had that inkling which I’m sure most people do that this isn’t all there is. Whatever is going on in this so-called outside world and the internal experience has never really matched up and so there is always been this kind of discordant feeling of something’s hiding behind somewhere, I don’t know where, so I started to look and read and explore.
And then I started my dance training at a young age, and I began to…I don’t attribute the eating disorders with dance, although I did at the time, which was my understanding. So that would be fitting into a very strict mold of what is acceptable in body image, weight, all of that junk. So I started to diet restrict, obsess because my understanding at that time was that dance, I was so passionate about it and it was my well of being. It was literally the one thing that I had to have to be okay.
Again, not knowing that there is something hiding behind the curtain which had always provided my well of being, didn’t know that then. So I continued on, I spiraled down 25 years of bulimia, anorexia going back and forth, which also accompanies its twin sister of anxiety and depression, of course. Seeking every kind of treatment help possible, giving up at times and just going with it, traditional psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, all that, meditation, yoga, everything.
Around I guess 2013, I came across this understanding kind of obliquely through Dr. Amy Johnson. I had been reading her blogs and she didn’t specifically state the “three principles” as a thing but what she pointed to resonated very deeply with me and I now know, looking back, that whatever resonates with us isn’t the thing, it’s us resonating, the truth in us that is resonating.
I kept being curious, I kept going back. I had been through so much and at times it seems like, well, this is just another spiritual thing that I’ve tried and it’s just bullshit. What’s different?
But something kept bringing me back because it’s just that, again, it resonated differently. So I kept exploring and throughout that exploration, I had incredible insights of the curtain dropping revealing what was behind the curtain, the Great Oz, right? And it wasn’t what I thought it was and that was the insight and that was what really broke open everything for me.
Now in terms of the behaviors, they didn’t fall away right away and I think that is so important for people to know that no longer was I focused on, this problem has to stop until I can be happy. It was there is no problem and I’m already happy. And not knowing that was producing a feeling of needing to do behaviors.
I really no longer need to know what’s going to happen with life or I don’t want to know. I don’t really know what’s going on most of the time and I’ve come to a place where I love that because I’ve seen that once I think I know, then I think I’m in control and it’s a mess at that point because that’s not true, it’s not true. So I hope that made some sort of sense there.
Amanda: Okay, good.
Alexandra: Yes, for sure. So then at some point, you got the idea to write your book which is called, Uncovery
Tell us a little bit about your book.
Amanda: The book was a beautiful example of me getting the hell out of the way because I really 100% feel like I did not write that book, that I typed on the computer and I did this logistical crap and I bought stuff and hired people to edit it. But the flow, the download came through me and it was very not me.
I was not in there for a lot of it and what I felt in times during the writing of it that I
I’ve never written anything before. I don’t write blogs, I don’t write anything on a regular basis. I loved writing in school but not…my artform is of a different form. So that’s just how it came through and it was a beautiful experience and I have seen so much since it was published and so I’m sure there is going to be
Alexandra: Right. The one thing that really struck me
Tell us how you came up with that title for the book.
Amanda: I was asked to be interviewed on a radio show and she said, “What do you want the title of the episode to be about your journey?” And I thought, “Okay, well, I recovered from all of this junk, this eating stuff, and the body stuff.”
But ‘recovery’ didn’t ring true to me and I just sat with it, I just let it go. I thought something will come to me and what arrived was
And it’s proven to be very apt in a description of what this understanding does for us. It’s a play on words but recovery I just heard that as, again, recovering up what I don’t want to deal with or what’s…yeah.
Alexandra: I love that word for so many reasons and it’s so perfect and it’s so apt. When I read your book, I just loved hearing how that had come to you, it was great.
Also in the book I was really struck: In chapter five, you tell a story about or explain how before you came to this understanding, you were always kind of looking over your shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop, when would you be triggered into behaviors that weren’t healthy for you, all that kind of thing.
Since you’ve come across this understanding that has dropped away. Can you explain a little bit more about that?
Amanda: Yes. That’s pretty huge because it was a continuously present background agitation that I’m kind of okay but it’s not really going to stick because I still don’t have a ground to stand on. And so I think that was the source of that, that I didn’t have a ground to stand on to assure me that nothing that it rose in my thought created experience was capable of ungrounding me.
So yeah, I would try techniques and be okay for a little while but still that background, not something still not…I’m not sure, I’m not confident, I know something’s still rattling around there moments away from engulfing me in some horrible uncontrolled freefall. So this understanding is what began the foundation of the grounding very slowly from the bottom up instead of from the top to the bottom.
Meaning instead of trying to fix the behaviors, still, there was no ground because that’s the top part, the top of the iceberg. So the understanding built the grounding that is deepening every day, it will forever. So it does drop away that background looking over my shoulder because I know that there is nothing behind my shoulder about to get me and that’s the best way I can describe it. But it’s just a realization that whatever I thought was triggering me wasn’t triggering me. It wasn’t as it appeared.
Alexandra: I love that. When I think so many of us that are self-help junkies as I was speaking to Jonelle Simms the other day who is a Canadian Three Principles practitioner and she had mentioned she felt that way as
Amanda: Whack a mole.
Alexandra: …yeah, whack a mole, exactly, yes.
Instead, we come at it from a completely different direction from the bottom up.
Amanda: I would point to the fact that there is no dam, just let the water rush through and see what happens because nothing is going to happen. But that’s a little further down the rabbit hole but it’s the attempt to plug all those holes that creates so much suffering.
It’s not that the holes are a problem, it’s our attempt to plug them because we perceive a problem and again, it’s flipped
Alexandra: Exactly. One of the things that I really struggled with at the beginning of this understanding and I think I’m still maybe getting my head around it, we talk about how we live in the feeling of our thinking, not in the feeling of our experience and so our thoughts are coming about not because of the outside environment or things that are happening on the outside.
One of the things that I really carried away with me from Uncovery was you mentioned was the difference between causation and correlation when it comes to our thoughts. I wondered if you could talk about that a little bit.
Amanda: I see it a little differently now. So I think what I was pointing to in the book is that the outside circumstances aren’t a cause for whatever arises in our thought, they could be correlated obviously.
If you punch me in the face, I’m going to have thoughts of, “Why did she do that?” That’s the correlation. But it didn’t cause that particular response in me. That particular thought…I could have had gazillion other thoughts. So that’s the correlation, it’s not a causation.
What I’m starting to see now as you go deeper into the understanding is that there is no outside, there is only the perception from within what my experience is showing up at and it appears to be there is
And so the causation-correlation thing will start to make more sense when there is not such a divide between me in here and that out there. Does that make sense?
Alexandra: A little bit, yeah, that’s a really interesting way to think about it. Wow, I love that.
One of the things that really helped me, thinking about causation and correlation was when I had an insight I guess or an understanding that no matter what’s happening, any number of thoughts could arise in me.
The same circumstance could happen for me at several different times or for different people and the thought that occurs to us is not caused by that event because it’s just thought rising up
in the moment.
Amanda: Yes, so events don’t cause spiritual energy. You know, when you say it like that it’s pretty logical, it’s like duh. But we live in this conditioned experience that circumstances make you feel a certain way like we’ve been taught that our whole lives. And so it’s a weird alien feeling to say, “Actually, that’s not true.”
It takes a while for that belief to kind of start to crumble a little bit. But you don’t want to deny your experience if it really does look like a circumstance is making you feel a certain way, that’s your experience
What you do want to notice is that it will change because it’s not true that the circumstance has caused a thought.
Amanda: See how that works, it changed.
Alexandra: Exactly. Oh, that’s so funny. It’s completely gone, it was so important a second ago.
Amanda: Oh, it was so important.
Amanda: You know I would…
Alexandra: Go ahead.
Amanda: I love that example because, what… So this is a beautiful illustration of how illusory and not what it appears to be our life is. And what I mean by that is something can seem so important in one moment or so horrible and traumatic in one moment and then time would pass and you could say, “That was the best thing that ever happened to me.” Same circumstance, different description judgment experience of it. Where else does that occur than in dreaming, than in illusion? How can something flip like that so real like then in something that is a dreamy, like when you’re dreaming at night things are so real just like they are in the daytime waking state. So I just wanted to throw that in because I love what just happened. I think it’s just a beautiful illustration of it, was so important and now it’s gone. How could it have been…yeah, real in terms of real…it can be relatively important in the moment, it was but then now it’s not. What do you make of that? That’s like wow.
Alexandra: Yes, so true. No, I hadn’t thought about that before. Yeah, the way that we can look back at certain circumstances that seem devastating and the worst thing that’s ever happened at the time and then you realize, oh no, actually that was fantastic for whatever reason.
Amanda: For whatever reason, we’re not looking at that, we’re looking at the phenomenon and how that could be changed so much other than in a dreaming, in an experience of things don’t really appear the way they…things don’t have an objective quality of awful that stay with them throughout life. Some things look like they do but a lot of people have a lot of experiences where they have changed their perception of something awful happening or something good happening.
Alexandra: Yeah, I would say almost everyone has had that experience…
Amanda: I think so, too, yeah.
Alexandra: …you know, at least once. Yeah, exactly. One of the things that I’m so interested in is in “The Little School of Big Change,” Amy does talk about the iceberg metaphor and that rather than chipping away at the top of the iceberg this understanding really gets us to raise the temperature of the water. And so you touched on behaviors before that, you know, once we start to grasp this, our behaviors don’t necessarily fall away immediately. And one thing I noticed is that it tends to cause people a little bit of suffering and because I think we tend to be so goal-oriented, you know, what are the three steps that I can do to…you know, how many calories should I be eating a day or whatever it is? That kind of rules and structure. And that’s one thing that I struggle with, too, at the beginning is not having what I say expectations about when the behaviors would fall away and yet the less I have expectations about them the more they do which is just so interesting.
Amanda: I love that, isn’t that beautiful?
Amanda: It points to the fact that… So if you picture a checkerboard, a playing board, a game board and there is square number one, square number two, three, four, five and on and on. Well, the behaviors manifest on like square 11 and so what this understanding does is it walks us back to an understanding of where those behaviors fall away because they are seen to be not needed anymore. Instead of starting at square 11 and try to manage square 11, square 11’s not the problem, the misunderstanding it’s way back at square one of what’s actually going on behind the curtain, what’s actually our experience that will have a ripple effect down the squares and then at square 11, it’s not even…it drops away. And so your expectations are seen to be…your lack of expectation has started around square one and two because you start to see that, oh, I’m not focusing on square 11 on the behaviors isn’t hitting the mark, it’s way, way, way, way, way, way later. It’s a way aftereffect of what’s really going on. It’s like the manager you hired to manage square four, to manage square three, to manage the misunderstanding that you’re in square one. It’s like all down the line. So yeah, dropping expectations is hard for us to do, especially when we’re suffering because we think we’re suffering because we can’t eat right or we want to lose weight and we can’t and I can’t stop thinking about food and exercise, of course. So that’s why this takes a little bit of a softening around, this understanding takes a little bit of softening around to get to a place where you can just…okay, behaviors are not what we’re looking at here. That’s so backwards from what self-help has pointed to. You’re six steps to stop binging. Okay, now what if it doesn’t work on Tuesday, what do I do then? I’m back circling again.
Alexandra: Yeah, crazy. Oh, I love that, I love the square analogy, that’s a great one. Yeah, that’s a good one.
Amanda: It’s a good illustration of how far down the line the behaviors lie and how they are not actually where the juice is in terms of misunderstanding.
Alexandra: Yeah. And they do, you know, I’m realizing, too, that the expectation of changing that behavior is actually perfect in a way because it’s what can show us how to kind of relax and accept our thinking that’s just coming up in the moment and watching how it comes up and then changes moment by moment. So it’s that funny paradox that that suffering is actually the thing that will teach us to be able to see what’s happening.
Amanda: That’s right, that’s beautiful. Yes, I love that. What we call suffering is that kind of… I call it the…Amy calls it that, too, alarm bell, but you could also call it an echo from who you really are, from your true nature, echoing forward alarming, you know, ringing the bell saying, “You’re believing something that’s not actually true.” And it’s supposed to feel like that when we do…supposed to be miserable when we believe something that’s not true. It doesn’t mean it’s true because you’re suffering, it means it’s not true, right?
Amanda: So it’s back…again, this is our theme for today, I mean just backwards, completely back, upside down.
Alexandra: Yes, I love that. That’s awesome. Well, this has been amazing, Amanda. Thank you so much for joining me here today. So why don’t you let our audience know a little bit about where they can find out more about you and your work?
Amanda: Well, so okay, I have a website that I don’t ever update. It’s up there you can take a look. It’s called uncoveryspace.com. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and then I’m also on Facebook.
Alexandra: Great, well, I will put links to those in the show notes for this episode. Well, thanks again so much, I really appreciate it.
Amanda: My pleasure, I’m so thrilled to be here and share this. I love this exploration so much.
Alexandra: Great. Me, too.
Amanda: And I love you.
Alexandra: Oh, thanks, Amanda. I love you, too. Okay, bye-bye.
[Forest / lake image courtesy Kalen Emsley and Unsplash.]