Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Monday, March 18, 2013
Friday, July 20, 2012
As I watch the latest reports on the most recent shooting in Colorado I am struck by several things. I cannot honestly say that either observation is exactly heartwarming.
The President and Mitt Romney both canceled campaigning today and both immediately pulled their ads off of Colorado TV. Both super PACS pulled their ads as well. They explained that the ads were too negative for those dealing with such a dark day. I’m happy that they still have some human decency inside of them and made this move. But I have to ask, what about the rest of us? If the ads are too negative for those in pain, aren’t they also too negative for regular folks?
Secondly, I saw news coverage of the shooter’s father as he was at the airport in San Diego trying to get to Colorado. Of course, the news people were all in his face, asking difficult questions and in some ways “just doing their job.” But my heart nearly broke looking at this man’s lonely pain. He had no law enforcement, lawyer or family friends to assist him as he made his way to his son. No matter what the outcome for the son, this man’s life had just changed forever. His nightmare is just getting started. As a parent, this makes me want to cry.
We so often forget that the families of the suspects are most often horrible victims as well. Not only do they have to deal with the results of some incredibly terrible event, but they also have lost someone dear to them. On top of that, parents, wives and children of criminals have to bear the burden of their own guilt. How might they have prevented this tragedy?
I have known two families here in Austin where the public and media crucified the wives for the deeds of their husbands. Neither wife had any clue as to the actions of their spouses, yet the police, the media and even the general public treated them like criminals. One received death threats had the police break into her home and trash it (long after the suspect was in custody) and had nasty surprises left in her mailbox. This woman was as surprised as everyone else that knew this man as to his illegal deeds. Can you imagine being treated like trash in the midst of your own heartache?
I just ask us to remember ALL of the victims (including the deranged person that committed the horrible act in the first place) when this awful stuff happens. It is a time to come together in compassion as we strive for understanding. We may not be able to “fix” situations like this, but we can do our best to care for one another.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Millions of Americans are celebrating summer with record-breaking temperatures and are either being forced to slow down or find water in which to cool off. I see this as a blessing, since so few of us are actually taught that it’s ok to slow productivity or to focus on our own well-being. I am also amazed at how few of us were taught to float on our backs as children.
Often clients will ask me what I mean when I tell them to let go of something, someone or a thought pattern. They want to know, how to actually “let go”. The answer lies in floating.
If you have ever floated on your back in water, you know that it ONLY works if you relax, if you let go. If you tense up, that part of you will sink. Of course, you can use your muscles and swim, but eventually all of us, even Michael Phelps will run out of energy. The more relaxed you can be, the better you will float.
I was in the pool the other day, escaping the triple digits myself and decided to float. Normally, I can regulate my buoyancy pretty well by my breath, but this day I observed that my shoulders kept dipping a little. So I consciously began relaxing the muscles in my neck and shoulders until I could float with ease. The process of floating had actually pointed out where I was holding tension and when I had succeeded in letting it go.
So take this opportunity to use the slower time to learn to float. The sensation of letting go is exactly the same whether you are in the water or walking around on the pavement. Practice it wherever you are. It is a valuable skill that might just save your life some day.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
I had a fabulous birthday and 4th of July celebration, but now I am once again feeling stuck in that effort to get back to work. What I left unfinished on my desk when I began this break was no small task. I was caught in a design loop of trying to condense a 350 page book into two lines of text for a catchy subtitle, trying to capture the essence of the feeling in an exquisitely perfect book cover and trying to edit the introduction to fit all of the pieces together. That’s a lot of trying!
And for some unknown reason, I decided to add more design confusion to my brain by painting the perfectly fine walls of my cozy home in bright colors. As I was starting to drown in my own indecision, I remembered a river rafting trip that I took a few years ago on a visit to Oregon.
It was fairly early in the season and the rivers were running very full (and cold) in Oregon. We were all given the choice of shooting the 20’ waterfall or watching from the bridge above as our mates risked their lives. I chose to watch while my daredevil son decided to take the adrenalin route.
There were plenty of instructions but the one I remember is what to do if you fall out: don’t try to swim out but instead float on your back until the current carries you away from the downward force of the waterfall. My son’s boat was first and everyone managed to stay in the boat. The second boat was not so fortunate.
We could see from the bridge that the raft was coming into the falls slightly askew and when it went over the falls several of the “weebles” fell out. Most managed to hang onto the raft and drift downstream to calmer water. But one young man, whose girlfriend was on the bridge with me, got caught in the whirlpool of the falls.
As we watched from above, he fought the power that was sucking him under by trying to swim. Our guide threw him a rope, but the guy just kept swimming and swimming. And getting nowhere. He was getting very tired and would go under repeatedly then fight his way to the surface again. Everyone was trying to reach him, yelling at him to relax and float, but he was lost in his own nightmare. It was obvious that he couldn’t get a breath. I will never forget his panic.
Nor will I forget his face when he finally gave up. His girlfriend screamed; she saw it too. He simply decided that he couldn’t fight it any longer. And down he went. He simply disappeared under the waterfall... for probably 30 seconds...and then he popped up, sputtering and coughing, about 25 feet downstream. When he had finally relaxed, the current had carried him to safety.
I’m pretty sure that if I could just relax on this design loop that I have been stuck in that I too will pop up, further downstream, safe in the calmer waters of a design solution. Maybe sputtering and coughing, but at least onto the next phase my journey and out of this damn whirlpool.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I have a favorite new hobby - loosing the extra 10 pounds that writing a book deposited on my mid- section. In another blog, I'll share all about my successes that have come from reading The 4 Hour Body, by Timothy Ferris, but today I want to talk about how Ferris stresses the importance of measuring to the success of transforming our bodies. It is equally true for inner work.
Since we don’t have a big global event every four years like the Olympics to test our progress, the accomplishments of the persistent work of personal growth might not be so easy to measure. If we can’t measure it in some way, we are likely to become extremely discouraged and frustrated. And when we get frustrated and discouraged, we give up.
My journey of writing a book is my current opportunity to face my own baggage and hopefully lighten the load. Some days I feel like I have moved backward in the process even though I doubt if such a thing is possible. If I had some way to measure my progress, at least I would feel better. If I feel better, I am more likely to continue working which leads to a much higher rate of “success”.
So we have at least two big intangibles to measure - our "feelings" which we can gauge by noticing our sensations, and "success" which we cannot even begin to measure until we at least define it for ourselves.
Let's start with the question,"What is success ...TO ME?" Ask yourself, what would success even look like, feel like, or sound like? Is it completing a book, selling a million copies and becoming an expert in your field? Or is it feeling authentic in your own skin – in any circumstance? Is it not giving a crap about what others think of you, but instead focusing on the leadings of your own heart? Is it feeling free to be you, so that you can free others, who then free others, etc.
Measuring is about incremental steps. No change, whether it is about weight loss or a transformation in our relationship with money happens overnight. So how can we measure success in little steps?
Every morning I wake up and ask what would success look like for me, today? What would make me feel like I had experienced a successful day today? I write these ideas down. This is not a list of goals necessarily, it is more of an awareness of what would make the day feel successful for me. Usually the things that would make me feel like a success are quite simple - feeling energized throughout the day, sharing moments with friends, experiencing a peaceful sufficiency or maybe accomplishing two things on my list.
Write these ideas down. Share them with others. Appreciate successes for your friends too. Create a notebook of “successes”. Include things which feel good – as simple as a stranger smiling at you on the city sidewalk for no good reason or as complicated as getting a book published. Notice the multitudes of successes along the way.
The only way that I know to measure intangibles such as feelings is to pay attention to them. Notice your sensations! If you are new to somatic work, this means the actual sensations in your body, not emotions. Practice morning, noon and night by just taking a 30 second break to notice what your sensations are at that moment. You do not have to do anything with them, just notice. If you are doing serious training, stop every hour to take an internal reading. Keep a journal that records the differences that you are beginning to feel. You do not need to record the sensations themselves, just your level of easy awareness of them.
By developing the practice of noticing our sensations and successes, we begin to realize that indeed we are making significant progress. At the end of each day, ask yourself if you feel successful? Did you experience a day that falls into the success category, by your own personal definition? These small measuring actions will help motivate and direct you as you grow into your own big shoes of magnificence.