Not too long ago, I wrote a piece trying to sum up a succinct description of the Scientology religion. When doing so, one facet I wanted to stress was how much of Scientology is geared around helping people to live in the present moment, as opposed to acting out-of-touch with one’s surroundings, and in response to old perceptions, conclusions and situations. It’s a huge reason why I don’t drink, and why Scientologists, as a group, are so vocally anti-drug.
But with respect to the actual practices and activities of the Scientology religion itself, I’d say no other action one does in Scientology is as forthrightly for the purpose of “being in present time” as an action known as The Survival Rundown. And, seeing as I just completed the Survival Rundown at my local church, I figured I’d take the time to say a few things and answer any questions you might have on it.
What is The Survival Rundown?
First off, some definitions are in order: In Scientology, a “rundown” is a series of related actions which culminate in a specific end result. In this case, the core of the Survival Rundown is a series of Scientology processes known as Objective processes. Objectives are processes designed to get a person more in-touch with their surroundings and into “present time”. This quote by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard sums up some of the theory behind these:
“‘Present time’ is a very important factor in mental and spiritual sanity and ability. A human being can be stuck in literally thousands of different past moments. His behavior and attitudes are influenced by such past incidents and experiences. As a matter of fact, a person can be totally regressed and can be in an incident of the past to the entire exclusion of present time.”
L. Ron Hubbard
Article from 12 May 1980 entitled DRUGS AND OBJECTIVE PROCESSES
Further actions one does in Scientology stem from a first gradient of having a person oriented in the here and now, without being encumbered by thoughts and reactions they can’t control. If a person, let’s say, can’t get his mind off women, or feels a compulsion to punch someone in the face whenever they give him an order, or has a hard time finishing things once starting them or starting things in the first place, these are all traits which would impede life in general, never mind further counseling. So, the Survival Rundown is usually done as a prerequisite to much of any other further Scientology counseling.
What’s actually done on the Survival Rundown is a very tailor-made series of Scientology auditing actions called Objective Processes. From the same issue referenced above, Mr. Hubbard gives a good definition of these Objective Processes:
“The thing that characterizes OBJECTIVE processes is that they bring about interaction between the individual and the existing physical universe. This is different than SUBJECTIVE processes in that these interact between the individual and his past or himself.
“Objective processes do several things: They remedy havingness*, they locate a person in his environment, they establish direct communication with the auditor and, last but not least, they bring a person into present time.” – L. Ron Hubbard
[‘Havingness‘ definition: “Havingness is defined as that which a person believes he can reach. And no-havingness is defined as something that a person can’t reach or doesn’t permit itself to be reached.” – L. Ron Hubbard, Objectives Processes Handbook p.643]
Essentially, if you think about a person who would rather not confront his life, and who then goes to the bar or smokes a joint in order to take his attention off of his life, surroundings and problems, the Survival Rundown is the exact inverse of this.
When one does the Survival Rundown, one first does a study of the theory of communication and of Objective Processes, and does a number of drills and exercises to practice how to deliver Objective processes on another. The entire course is done with a “twin” – someone whom you pair up with for the duration of the course. You then go back and forth with your twin, performing Objective procedures on your twin, and your twin doing the same for you.
The exact procedures that are run are vastly different for each person. Case Supervisors at the Church first determine which, out of more than three hundred different processes, are applicable to your case, and in exactly what sequence they’re to be done. These are then executed under the supervision of staff at the Church who not only watch to make sure you’re able to do all of the procedures properly, but also get the proper end result from each.
What I Got from Doing the Survival Rundown
First off – Scientology Auditing is a very personal thing, so as such, the gains and changes one can expect from it are going to be totally different person-to-person. So, things that were life-changing to me may or may not make the smallest bit of difference for you, but I’ll at least try to articulate what it’s meant for me to do this.
- Reacting to the Present as Opposed to the Past: One thing that kept coming up as a recurring theme over the course of the Survival Rundown is that I discovered for myself countless different ways that I was reacting to my current environment using habit patterns or emotional responses to things that happened some long time ago that have nothing whatever to do with present time. For example, there were times that I’d get upset or rankled about my wife giving me something to do – something I really did actually want done, but I’d then get bent out of shape about it because some other time a long time ago I was bent out of shape about being given something to do. I.e. my reaction was illogical and not helpful. Or, as another example, there was a time when I was a kid that I’d seen some grown-up start cussing at a piece of machinery when it didn’t work. I decided, at the time, that this must be “how grown-ups handle things,” and unknowingly folded that cussing-out of machinery into my own behaviour. I realized that for years, I’d been getting mad at things when they didn’t work right, even though I knew, analytically, that cussing out a computer wouldn’t make it work properly. Not only that, I knew, analytically, that getting mad only makes you less able to handle things, yet I’d do it anyhow for no good reason. Now, suddenly, I don’t find myself getting mad at things when they don’t work, and find my day-to-day work (which happens to involve fixing big computers) goes a lot easier.
- Being in control of my own thoughts: One common misconception that a lot of big-pharma-funded mainstream media likes to push is that we, as individuals, are not able to control our own thoughts. If we have thoughts that hang around that we don’t want, thoughts of remorse, past problems, bad feelings, relationship woes, sex, etc, the mainstream media would like us to believe that the only solution is to have chemicals “get the thoughts out of your head for you,” in the form of powerful psychotropic drugs. Well, I do know that’s a farce, and I’ve known for some time that I should be able to be responsible for my own thoughts and feelings. However, nevertheless, for years I’ve had certain thoughts & feelings that I had a rough time keeping a handle on. It’s that problem so many of us have had: “How do I get that stupid thought out of my head!?”Well, a part of this program (one that’s tailor-made for each individual) addressed obsessive or compulsive thoughts. So, as a part of this, I ended up really regaining control of what I think about. It sounds so simple, but for someone who has to “sit on” certain thoughts and feelings as opposed to just controlling them it feels like a miracle. I feel like a totally new person.
- It’s a lot tougher to ruffle my feathers: As a parent of three kids, there’s always a lot going on with the family. Previously, there were certain situations where I felt like I got right to the end of my rope way faster than I should. Times like where I’m trying to put the baby to bed, the older kids are supposed to go to bed but repeatedly aren’t, and then I’d just lose my cool. After doing the Survival Rundown, I felt vastly more in-control of my own emotions, and not conflating every time I’ve ever tried & failed to get kids to nap/bed with the current moment I’m facing at the time.As such, it makes me feel like I’m being a much better parent to my kids, as I know that when I’m with them, they’re getting the real me, and not someone who’s addressing them on automatic.
All told, this has been an amazing experience for me. Please do shoot me any questions you have about the Survival Rundown, I’d be happy to answer them.