Trust: It's a Good Thing

Trust: It's a Good Thing

Many of you know that I regularly offer gift sessions on a pay it forward basis. Some people upon discovering this, express concern that I may be taken advantage of, especially when they learn that I do not screen potential recipients or ask for any proof of income or how they’re going to pay it forward. Although I appreciate their concern, I’m always a bit surprised. I find it hard to imagine that people would actually lie to get some free yoga, meditation, and/or coaching sessions.

More importantly, I’d rather trust people. I figure the last thing someone struggling financially needs is...

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Reflections on the Equinox

Reflections on the Equinox

Twice a year, the sun is positioned directly above the equator, and the world celebrates the equinox, heralding the beginning of Vernal Spring or Autumnal Fall, depending on where one lives. The word equinox is derived from the latin words, aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, meaning “night,” signifying one of two occasions in which the duration of night and day is approximately equal, the balance of darkness and light.

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Compassion Lesson #10,272: Be Kind to Old Biddy Kitty

Compassion Lesson #10,272: Be Kind to Old Biddy Kitty

Early this morning (way too early), I awoke to the yowls of our cat who occasionally decides that we need to rise before dawn for no apparent reason. Since she's as old as Methusala now, I feel compelled to check on her when she yowls in case she's in the throes of death, which is the only reason any cat should be incessantly yowling at me before dawn. That, and she's completely deaf now, so shushing her does nothing to quiet her, and it doesn't seem sporting to to use a spray bottle to squirt water at an elderly, deaf cat. 

I try to think of these morning yowling sprees as developing my compassion. So I poke my head over the side of the bed. She’s there on the floor yowling up at me. I reach over and pet her. She can’t jump up onto the bed anymore, but she’s definitely not dying. Sigh...

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Keeping Quiet

Keeping Quiet

KEEPING QUIET 

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness...

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Enlarge Your Sense of Things

Enlarge Your Sense of Things

A sweet teaching story appeared in a recent online thread. I don't know the author, so if you do, please share. Meanwhile, enjoy:

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked...

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The Joy Salutation

The Joy Salutation

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.  There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

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Glad Tidings for Holiday Blues

Glad Tidings for Holiday Blues

'Tis the season for gifts and giving, comfort and joy, peace on earth, and goodwill to all. 

Yet, despite the glad tidings of the season, there are many among us who feel less than merry or downright blue during the holidays. Emotional responses to personal challenges are often intensified during this time of increased cultural pressures to be of good cheer. The inability to be with loved onesbe they deceased, afar, or estrangedcan infuse the holidays with discomforting sadness and grief. Holiday consumption, impulsive spending, dietary overindulgence, un(der)employment woes, and financial hardships can create anxiety, worry, and dread.

Moreover, many of us may endure stressful travel conditions to arrive at childhood homes beset with family dynamics and expectations (unchecked assumptions, unresolved conflicts, unsolicited opinions) that may not fully embrace our current selves. Past surroundings prime behavioral patterns from earlier times. Furnishings, heirlooms, and scents often trigger residual responses and ways of being.

Sometimes, falling into familiar patterns in familiar places surrounded by familiar faces can be comforting. But...

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You Oughta Be in Pictures

You Oughta Be in Pictures

Sometimes, it seems the universe conspires to create the most delightful circumstances. Still, I was slow to recognize the gift as it was offered.

When my awesome client, Steve Thomas, suggested that I meet a local filmmaker looking for a few more interesting projects, I instantly thought of a few people I know who might have an interest in creating a promotional video...

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How to Find the Heart of Anger

How to Find the Heart of Anger

I shared a teaching story attributed to Paulo Coehlo in the context of a recent coaching session, and realized that others might appreciate it too. Like all storytellers, I've probably colored the tale with my own experience in the retelling, but hopefully, the essence remains. 

-------------

On a recent outing, a teacher and his students witnessed in the distance a couple angrily shouting at each other.

The teacher asked his students, "Why do people in anger shout at each other?"

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Invite Your Freak-Out to Hum Along

Invite Your Freak-Out to Hum Along

 

When someone comes to me stressed, anxious, upset, and generally freaking out, I do not under any circumstances suggest that this person relax. Having both witnessed and received this response to freak-outs over the years, I have learned that this usually well-intended remark is almost never helpful and often annoying.

Telling people to relax does not engender relaxation, although compassion and listening tend to be welcome. Deep breaths also help.

What is even more helpful sounds a bit weird at first...

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The Art of Self-Expression: 5 Good Reasons to Doodle Away Your Day

The Art of Self-Expression: 5 Good Reasons to Doodle Away Your Day

Throughout history, we humans have used art to express ourselves.  We create art not only to represent and beautify our world, but also as a means of understanding and sharing who we are in our world. Through creative self-expression, we grow in self-awareness, generate insights, resolve problems, and enhance our overall well-being.

However, if you're like many adults, somewhere along the way you may have decided, perhaps without even realizing it, that art-making is not for grown-ups, or at least not for grown-ups like you. As much as you may like art on the walls and (especially if you share your home with children) the refrigerator, it seems the art-making is best left to artists and children. After all, when it comes to art, isn't patronage the appropriate role for productive members of society? 

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Finding Our Way Through

Finding Our Way Through

If there was a conversation that could begin to ease all sufferingwithin yourself, within others, and within the worldwouldn't you want to join that conversation? Earlier this year, I received an invitation to work with Ashley Cooper and Melanie Wroe to produce aguide for Seeds of Compassion, an initiative to nurture kindness and compassion in the world.  We were asked to create a simple process that anyone could use to engage in meaningful conversation about compassionwhat it means, what it looks like, and how we can embody it more fully in our world.

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Participant-Centered Design: How to Design Events Worth Attending

Participant-Centered Design: How to Design Events Worth Attending

Whenever I get asked to do a presentation, I always have mixed thoughts.  I’m grateful that someone values my perspective enough to invite me to share it, but I’m also concerned that people will expect me to do all the talking.  Most people who know me well will tell you that I consider myself to be less of a public speaker and more of a conversation-starter.  I enjoy presentations if they catalyze meaningful conversation and action, but I prefer more participant-centered events...

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Yoga: The Original Integral Practice

Yoga: The Original Integral Practice

In all of the excitement about integral practice (not just the one in a kit, but the whole kit and caboodle), it seems to me that yoga—fully practiced beyond the reductionist emphasis on Hatha-yogic postures—serves this rather well. As a yoga practitioner for the last twenty years, I have found that yoga fulfills what most people seem to be seeking in this quest for integral practice—a comprehensive method for engaging Spirit in our lives.

Maybe I’m an integral Luddite, but I love being part of such a rich, global tradition exemplifying...

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Pyramid Principles for Life

Pyramid Principles for Life

...At times the journey feels awkward or perilous: you're asking questions that everyone wishes would go away; you don't know how to put into words what you're searching for; you're wondering just how big an idiot you really are for leaving what felt sure and safe and comfortable...

Paul H. Ray, PH.D. and Sherry Ruth Anderson, PH.D., The Cultural Creatives

...It is safe to say that men [and women] have been seeking an answer to the riddle of the Great Pyramid for over 4000 years...

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the Great Pyramid. A testament to human ingenuity, the Great Pyramid is the only remaining structure of the Seven Wonders of the World. Believed to have been built in 2600 BC, it was originally encased in highly polished limestone that reflected sunlight, making the pyramid visible from vast distances. According to some calculations, the casing stones of the original pyramid would have reflected light like giant mirrors, so powerful that it would be visible from the moon.

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Questions Worth Asking

Questions Worth Asking

My dear, is it true that your mind
Is sometimes like a battering
Ram
Running all through the city
Shouting so madly inside and out
About the ten thousand things
That do not matter?

Hafiz, Out of the Mouths of a Thousand Birds

Deep in American life lies a dormant soul, almost obliterated by politicians and media that consider it too lowly and weak for serious attention.
Thomas Moore

In my personal and professional development work, I spend a lot of time with questions. My questions. Client questions. Unasked and unanswered questions. Spiritual "meaning of life" questions. Transactional "get the job done" questions. Relational "getting to know you" questions. Easy questions. Hard questions. Rhetorical questions. In the course of all this questioning, I have noticed that the most powerful questions people ask are those that invoke reflection about what they value. I call these questions valuable questions.

Valuable questions are worth asking. They are questions of value that enable us to deepen who and how we are in the world--to grow, to change, to transform ourselves and others. They help us determine what really matters to us and what to do about it. How can I be a better person? What do I want to do with my life? How can I make money and make a difference in the world? How can I have meaningful relationships with people important to me? Valuable questions invoke reflection on how we value ourselves, our relationships, life conditions, and life pursuits.

They are also overwhelming and hard to answer because they take time. Even worse, valuable questions take personal time, and we are busy. We are a nation of people in a hurry, a culture addicted to well-marketed speed. This is not a novel observation. We all know it. Full-speed, speed to market. Fast food, fast cars, fast pace. Quick fixes. Rush hour, rush job, feel the rush. Instant coffee, instant gratification. We don't even read anymore; we scan, skim and surf our way through life.

Ours is a culture of pay per view relationships and substitute experiences, a culture that promotes spending more time with television "Friends" than with friends who really care. Most of us experience fifty to one hundred advertisements by nine in the morning. The entire world is at our fingertips--broadcast into our living rooms, our cars, our offices. Television, radio, billboards, snail mail, email, chat rooms, discussion boards, telemarketing. Even the spiritual has become commercial as corporations compete to sell us souls.

Reaction is better than inaction--and reflection, particularly self-reflection, is reserved for the self-absorbed or people with nothing better to do. Time out is a behavior modification technique for children and time off is regarded with suspicion. Vacations are prescriptions for preventing nervous breakdowns. We barely have time to sleep, let alone time to dream.

We simply don't have time for questions, valuable or otherwise. We want answers--and we want them fast. What am I going to wear today? Are we on schedule? Why am I doing this job anyway? Where did I put the car keys? Am I a good parent? How much is it going to cost? How am I going to make this payment? Why am I so worried? When will it be finished? Is it my turn to drive the kids? When am I going to get to the grocery store? What am I having for dinner? What's on TV tonight? Where's the remote control? When was the last time we had sex? How much sleep do I really need anyway? Is this what I really want? On any given day, there are so many questions competing for our attention, is it any wonder that we tend to neglect the most valuable for the least time-consuming?

Our personal time is in short supply and high demand. Most of us, of necessity, use our personal time to go to the dentist, pick up the dry-cleaning, and buy the groceries. We use personal time to socialize with friends, connect with partners and read to the kids. If we're lucky, we may have time leftover to get to the gym. In our culture, personal time is any time we spend outside of work, however impersonal, taking care of the rest of our lives, taking care of the people in our lives and--oh yes, taking care of ourselves. That too--and more often than not--that last. After all, personal time for truly personal use should be reserved for crises.

Basically, if we have any personal time at all, we should be shopping, cooking, cleaning, and socializing. We should be doing something--certainly not sitting around by ourselves inquiring about the meaning of life. We have Oprah for that--just turn on the television. Watch a meaningful life.

However, if we want to live meaningful lives, we have to occasionally turn off the television, the cell-phone and the computer. Leave the laundry for another day. Decline the invitation and order in. Whatever it takes, we have to take the time to ask ourselves the questions worth asking--value ourselves enough to ask the valuable questions. We have to get personal with our personal time and inquire into our own experience about what really matters.

We must breathe, reflect, be. Greet the moment with a deep sigh and a full heart. Now, that would be doing something.

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