The Luckenbach System was devised as a Life Preserver. A method to rescue man-overboard who are adrift in stormy seas. My writing here is stream of conciousness (with a small bit of editing) as that’s how it was presented to me. With some luck and effort, I believe that it can work to improve the life of anyone in need.
The name. It’s kind of funny. It struck me sitting in the car at a Red Light on a scorching August summer in Texas. The Luckenbach System. It’s named after an old song that I’m partial to, and honestly, it seems fairly appropriate. The general system looks like this:
There are problems causing you immense difficulty in your life. They are ever-present and manifest in many different ways (some seen, and some unseen). They will not fully resolve themselves without your effort.
Ok, so how?
If you’re like me, you may be in a dark place. Depressed. Eating unhealthily and too frequently. BORED but RESTLESS as if you know there’s something you should be doing, but what? Instead you binge Netflix, or turn your attention to one of your 50 other ‘hobbies’ that takes up your time, money, and effort. You know you could be better. You FEEL in the back of your conciousness that this is not your true path. But laziness is easy. So you stay here because you ARE here.
How the hell do I beat this thing?
First and foremost, look at your life. It is very complex as are all lives. Sitting down and analyzing it will take you down hundreds of ‘Rabbit Holes’. Cause then effect, then back to cause again. What ifs abound. Your present state is an outcome of thousands (millions) of effecting factors. A map of this would look like a spilled pot of Spaghetti. To even begin to get a grasp on this, the Spaghettin will have to become untangled.
Here’s the kicker. Every second that you are alive, you are adding more tangles to the Spaghetti. Life is just necessarily complicated, so how can you untangle something while you are actively tangling it? Well, you cannot.
First step of the Luckenbach method:
Stop Tangling the Spaghetti
Effectively, this will mean something different to everyone who tries it. There is no way for me to know what is complicating your life the most. You know this, and if you trust yourself for a second, it will come to you. For the duration of the System, you’ll have to cut out the complications. This could be isolation from friends and family. A hiatus from work. Quitting the hobbies or other responsibilities that you have to ‘juggle’. SIMPLIFY. Eat, Sleep, Exercise, Repeat. Simple. Think of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. 🙂 No more deadlines or obligations. At least for a while. This will be the most visible part of the System, and outsiders will notice. You may also get a feel for your current relationship to them by the way that they treat this request for isolation.
Ok, so I’m living simply.
Don’t waste this first effort. It will put at least a minor strain on your life. Shirking responsibilities and social obligations is not without consequences. Make sure that you make it worth it by:
Untangling the Existing Mess
So you’ve temporarily stopped adding tangles to the Spaghetti. Now its time to untangle the current mess. This will be a huge pain in the ass, but now that you’ve invested, make it worth it. Pretend like your life is a mass of tangled cords. Each aspect of your life is 1 cord: your SO, your career, your current financial situation, your family relationship, your children, your purpose in life etc.. Start at the present day and identify the aspect. This is the free end of the cord. Now, untangle it the same way that you would untangle any physical cord in the real world.
Follow it back from the end until you hit a tangle.
Identify the nature of the tangle.
Unwrap it, and move on down the rest of the cord.
We are not problem solving at this step. Just getting a clear picture of what has led you to this point in your life. Focus on simply being honest about what got you to where you are today in each aspect. This should not require a ton of thought, but rather loose reflection. At the end of each aspect, you should have a clear picture of where you started, and how you ended up where you are today.
One of the beautiful things about the human mind is our little hidden talent for pattern recognition. Most people don’t even recognize that they are doing this, but the Human brain can pick up patterns in so many datasets with ease. You will find as you unravel these cords, that patterns will emerge. Try not to focus on them yet, as they will distract you from the simple task of unraveling the cords. But make a note of any percieved patterns. Write them down. Later, they will be useful.
The Human eye is made of 2 different kinds of photoreceptors: Rods and Cones. They percieve light in different ways and have different thresholds for vision and resolution. Additionally, they are found in different densities in different parts of the eye. What this boils down to is that you have different vision in different parts of your eye. Crazy, huh?
You can try this by looking at something in a vary dark room. When you look directly at the target, it will disappear. This is because the rods in the center of your vision have very high resolution for good picture, but they have low light sensitivity. Conversely, they are surrounded by Cones. These are more basic photoreceptors. They have much lower thresholds for light sensitivity, but their image resolution sucks.
That same target that dissappeared a second ago? Look about 10-15 degrees away from it (in any direction). You’ll find that its back. You can see it in your peripheral although its not entirely clear.
In many philosophies around the world, Humans are equipped with a third eye. Some people call this “The Mind’s Eye”. This is your inwardly looking eye, and is responsible for seeing metaphysical things that you don’t see with your standard pair. If you keep the metaphor of the Mind’s Eye, you’ll find that it is subject to the exact same trick of the light that I was just describing in the paragraph above.
Meditation is an excersise for looking inward. At analyzing yourself, and the subconcious manifestations that the mind has created out of external stimulous. Well, sometimes the mind is a dark place, and looking directly at your target makes it invisible. What you need is a way to look just a bit to the side with your mind’s eye.
I call this a Working Meditation.
Essentially, you distract yourself with a minor repetitive task, and that pulls your mind jusssst off to the side enough, that the true subconcious becomes visible. This task should be dull, repetitive, and mindless. My go to is yardwork. Mowing the yard is perfect. The drone of the mower, and the heat coupled with mindless walking back and forth. Really lets me go deep into my subconcious. Just make sure you don’t run over the garden hose! Really any repetitive task can work here, but find something, and do it several hours a week minimum.
For just starting out the Luckenbach System, 20 minutes a day is a minimum. Clean the bathtub, vacuum, fold clothes anything to let you zone out and get into your own head.
Since we’re on the topic of using Human physiology to our advantage, the next bit is going to come very naturally.
Your daily ablution is a cleansing ritual. It allows you to reaffirm your adhearance to this system everyday first thing, and it provides much needed routine and stimulation. Each morning should be started with a cleansing ritual. I would suggest a full shower, but simply washing hands and face will suffice. Water must be applied to both hands and face to be effective. This triggers a built in reflex in the human body that prepares us for diving. It changes our heartrate, and core temperature to provide some neurological stimulation. Additionally, the mental bonus of feeling clean lifts your spirits, and helps prepare you to meet the days challenges head on.
One of the most underrated and unused senses in our arsenal: Smell. Smell has an ancient and direct link into important brain regions associated with mood and memory. These links are very strong, and likely predate Humanity itself. As such, it is important to utilize them on a daily basis. I recommend daily burning of incense in the home or office. This has a cleansing and purifying effect on the space while at the same time making it feel definitely lived-in. If you don’t like the dust or smoke generated by incense, essential oil in a diffuser is effective. Simply adding a vase of flowers on your desk can help. Give yourself aromatic stimulation, and your thoughts will stick in your head quicker. Your mood will be mellowed allowing them to come in the first place.
As living creatures, one of the most basic parts of our physiology is eating. In fact, some cynical folks say that our lives boil down to eating and sleeping enough until we can reproduce and then dying.
This should give you some indication as to the importance that food has on our daily life. In addition to the rules of Human anatomy, there are far older rules for the entire universe as enumerated by Newton in his treatise on thermodynamics. Everything takes energy. Even conversion to between states.
Eating, produces byproducts as metabolism which affect your body AND MIND. These effects are significant, and can be noticable if you will stop and listen. Other than pure hunger (which will come in waves, and abate in a few minutes), fasting provokes clear and focused thinking in a very unique manner.
I find that a simple one day fast during daylight hours is enough to focus me and detoxify my body. Eating after sunset is something to look forward to and gives your body time to regain some ground to past metabolites during the day.
This advice should go without saying, but as Mel tells me, “Everyone needs different types of encouragement!” Drink lots of water. Just always have water with you, and keep drinking it. It does help all of your body’s processes function more efficiently, and it will eventually allow you to maintain optimal cognition for fixing past issues, and coming up with proactive solutions for future problems.
As this process is wraught with temptation to stray, you will need a mascot. Some type of symbol to remind yourself of your decision to crawl out of this hole. I chose a standard iron bracelet called a Kara. This sits on my preferred wrist and I see it about a million times a day. It both encourages me at times of doubt, and acts as a source of pride and strength throughout the day. Oddly enough, this is one of the very reasons Sikhs wear this bracelet. Guess I didn’t have to re-invent the wheel.
After several days of this System, you should have been eating well, exercising, meditating, and fasting. Your reflections may have revealed things to you already, but there is still much to discover. During this time, if you are not smoking, drinking, or working yourself to the bone, you may find that you have trouble sleeping.
I recommend for 1 night taking 5 mg of Melatonin. This dose should take effect within 20 minutes depending on what you’ve eaten recently. Make sure that you are already in bed when you take it, and most importantly do not fight it. The effects can be very subtle, and if you try, you can overcome them. If you do, then you have ‘missed the bus’ in effect. Allow yourself to fall asleep when you feel drowsy, and the potent chemical will take an effect.
This dosage always produces very vivid dreams for me. These dreams are going to be a mixture, of your recent day’s events, your thoughts and processing of them, and most importantly artifacts and embodiments of your subconcious. These manifestations of your subconcious will be present in various forms and are usually vary nebulous in substance. They can be an animal, a feeling, knowledge that you ‘know’ without knowing how you learned, a person in your dream etc…
Pay attention to these things. They are symbolic and deeply personal to your psyche. When you finally get comfortable later on down the road, these symbols along with the patterns that you identified in the spaghetti earlier will provide deep insight into your life and self, and serve as guides for future decisions.
Ultimately at the end of this process, you will have :
A good grasp on all of your past hangups
An idea of your present problems (thier TRUE sources, and and idea of how to address them)
A plan to move forward harmoniously (living your life, but taking into account the self that you now know)
All of this will lead to increased confidence, and ultimately happiness.