Percolation, an arrow in your quiver to success

By Sue Ellen Haning


“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”  — Alan Wilson Watts, 20th century British philosopher, writer and speaker.

Welcome back, fellow nuts. I trust your journey outside your comfort zone is moving along or you may have already arrived and are enjoying life from a new perspective. Either way, congratulations to you.

Last time, I wrote about a personal experience that I called the “Big One,” or a single event that began my transformation. Mine just happened to be an active event. Yours may be something you saw or heard or even thought about. Just about anything can begin one’s transformation if that particular someone is open to something new or different.

This week, we will look at percolating, which is a gradual process similar to the old percolating coffee pots. Some of you may be too young to remember these pots that were in vogue before the drip coffee makers. The percolators were great fun to watch, as there was a little clear glass knob or ball topping the coffee pot. As the water in the bottom of the pot began to boil, bubbles were forced up a narrow center tube and spilled over onto the coffee grounds. The bubbles could be seen in the glass topper, which provided a source of entertainment for the little ones, not to mention the heavenly aroma saturating the air.

Percolation is a filtering of something. Processing requires action. To begin the coffee making process, one needs to put the water and coffee grounds into the pot, set it over the fire and wait. So it is with us: An action or thought must take place first and then we step back and let it percolate within. I guarantee this is not easy for those of us who like taking control.

“What do you mean step back and let it percolate?” you might ask. If that thought took your breath away, you may be a controller. It’s okay. This will be another step outside your CZ.

Until I began working with horses, I never thought about the importance processing and percolating play in our understanding. We can introduce something new to a horse and, if we are clear in our communication, the horse will take the information and percolate on it. Sometimes a horse will lick and chew or sigh, indicating that this has been meaningful to him. Sometimes it is instant and other times it won’t be evident until the next time we ask the horse for the same thing and he carries it through with ease.

Percolation time is the time between the input of info and the total absorption and integration into one’s being of such information. Percolation can take a split second, or years, and is strictly a subjective experience. The action you take is your intent or desire to understand something. The trick is that thinking about it is not the key; you must allow your very being to do the work. Maybe percolating looks like soaking in the hot springs, sleeping or playing. Once the thought is in place, let it seep, penetrate and ooze through every cell in your body. Put simply: let your innards do the work. You won’t even know anything is happening until one day, when you least expect it, you understand, feel differently about something, have an idea on which you wish to move or realize something has become clear that you were confused about before. You’ll experience a knowing that could knock your socks off, but thank goodness bubbles won’t be percolating out the top of your head.

When we reach adulthood, we have more choices, but often we are steeped in tradition and our upbringing and we carry these traditions forward through another generation. Our western culture supports doing, not being. The act of allowing yourself to percolate requires being and not doing. The old saying, “history repeats itself” is very true … that is, unless we choose to break tradition, which is not easy. The word “choice” is the power word. We do have choices. What if for all these years your daily activities had not been set for you by someone else? Who might you be if the choice were yours? This is something else on which to percolate.

This week I encourage you to percolate on the word “uncertainty,” aka the unknown, or yet-to-be-revealed. Yes, uncertainty can take you outside your comfort zone and fear may arise. We’ve all been in a situation at some time where we did not know what the outcome was going to be.

Certainty, predictability, security all create sacrifices in life. Being an ex-control freak and having relinquished most of that day-to-day control, I learned the sacrifices, not to mention the energy, that controlling and micromanaging inflicted on my life. The sacrifices are living a life without adventure and passion … sort of like being on a treadmill. When you place the word “uncertainty” into your mind, then let go of the outcome and go about your day, you are percolating or allowing your being to do with the word what it may.

Can you believe that some level of uncertainty will enrich your life? To make things interesting and to have a fully engaged life, some degree of uncertainty is always present. As stated before, percolation can take a split second, or years, but it’s the allowing it to take place within you that is the key.

Happy percolating. Join me next time for a mental revolution.