The Only Constant Is Change

Infinite Possibilities - Barnes.jpg

I hear a lot of definitions around “What is Right” and “What is Left” or Conservative/Liberal, Republican/Democrat, Nature/Nurture, Male/Female,  Defensive/Embracing and so forth.   There is no agreement, and never will be.  There are popular, academic, scholarly, philosophical and deeply politicized definitions, many of which are deeply prejudiced.

 

It seems to me that clusters are more important than specifics or mono-blocks, so long as you also realize that individuals actually contain multitudes: that they can lean “Copnservative”  t on one issue, but “Progressive” on another.  We’re complicated.

 

While making it clear that politics is not my arena, many of my close friends are indeed deeply politicized, and I’ve listened to and engaged in  thousands of hours of talk on the subject.   My primary goal in defining things so that they make sense to me is to define things in a way that avoids damning or praising either side.   Not that I don’t prefer one side, because I do…for my own reasons.  Not that I don’t think that one side or the other can, as the pendulum swings, be a more rational approach to the world’s problems.   But any definition that implies a basic flaw in the most basic aspects is to be avoided.  I see nothing useful there.

 

While there is no definitive one for me, one that works in so many cases that I find myself thinking in these terms more frequently than any other is that the Right seems to be the protector of traditions and history, and the Left is a cultivator of dreams for our future. What works on the one hand, what might be even better on the other.  Clearly, both approaches have plusses and minuses.  MOST of what we do is rooted in past behavior.  A culture that reinvents the wheel every day never progresses.  You don’t seek a new way to tie your shoes or drive to work every day.   It is through inculcation of habits, grooving what we know about everything from clean water to infant health that we survive.  But it is dreams, testing, asking how we can improve, how can we be healthier, happier, more free, asking what traditions are obsolete, and how can human beings evolve socially, that is responsible for all we have accomplished as well. Everything was once new, once mocked, once reviled…until it worked.  At which point it become part of our heritage, and we move on.   And this is not negative.  It is not foolish to question the new, any more than it is foolish to question “we’ve always done it that way.”   Mutations tend to produce cancer more often than Wolverine.  Tradition keeps us alive.  But without Progression, we stagnate and die.

 

There will always be a tension between these things.  And if there was an objective position to take, it would be clear (I believe) that in general there is an equal amount of wisdom and asininity on either side.   As I’ve said…there are individual eras or moments of history in which one side is probably far more “correct” than another, but  as beings functioning WITHIN the system, it is probably difficult to know at the time.  We’ll have different opinions. And that’s part of the cost of living in a democracy–we will disagree about what is the best way to live, how much of the past is good, and which future we should build.

 

It is galling at times. Frightening.  Exhilarating.  The only alternative I know of would be to be ants or termites, which have not changed in a hundred million years…or on the other hand to be utterly anarchic, everyone following his own path, which is no better than total regimentation depending on how much one values survival over “freedom.”    Sigh.

 

Its tough.  But if you think that the current world is providing challenges we’ve never faced before, I politely suggest that you are looking at the surface, and haven’t studied your history.  Everything old is new again, and we’ll survive this part of the cycle, the human race inch-worming forward, never too far ahead of itself without triggering a backlash, which in turn triggers a drive to vault forward again. Those who will contribute the most, who the world needs the most, will be those who can see both the Yin and the Yang, and grasp that those one either extreme who scream “all is lost” or “we’re the only truth” have always been among us. And they have always been wrong.

 

I choose to think there is nothing so special about the current generation that we happen to be the ones for which it is finally true.  How we feel depends upon what we focus on, the questions we ask ourselves.

 

I choose both joy, and readiness. The children of the world need me to be an adult. The sleepers need someone to be awake.   To be awake, and adult, and remember the cycles of change strikes me as being the best way I can thank those who came before me…and make the way for those who will follow.

 

Namaste,

Steve

Love, healing, and the Morning Ritual

A FB friend recently complained about people who wish understanding for historical grievances, but in his opinion show insufficient concern for similar current problems in other countries.  My response:

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“If you care as much about what happens to other children as your own, you cannot function. That’s just survival. Any more than someone else’s injury hurts you as much as your own broken bone.”

His response, I thought was honest:   “I cannot function.”

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No, he cannot.  NO ONE CAN.   IF you make sure everyone in the world is fed before you eat, YOU WILL STARVE.  In a world of bees or ants or termites, MAYBE it would be possible to be totally Other-serving, or even to really care as much about what happens to other people as yourself.

 

That is your choice, and a case could be made that it is spiritual and in some way enlightened and evolved. But let’s look at what I actually said: “if you care as much about what happens to other children as your own, you cannot function.”  Meaning that if YOU choose to starve unless everyone eats, that is an adult choice. But if you say your CHILDREN must starve unless everyone eats, you have done something that the world will judge as foolish, destructive, and worthy of scorn.  Your children will die. And while you have the right to decide to starve for your beliefs, you do NOT have the right to bring children into the world and starve THEM for your beliefs in any self-replicating culture I know of.  It will be dead in one generation.

 

And in this instance, failure equals “wrong”.  “Abusive”.  “Evil.”  Get it?   Contrary to reproductive imperatives in this instance is considered “evil” by almost anyone in any time in any culture anywhere in the world.

And here’s the truth:   People who do this don’t love themselves. In fact, often, they are so damaged that looking within themselves, serving themselves, healing themselves, is like looking into a sack filled with snakes. Digging in a dung-heap for crackers.   So they care about other people.  Wisdom is easier to dispense than follow.

 

There will ALWAYS be stress, poverty, pain in the world.  If you have no center, you must have STRONG walls.   If you have no walls OR center, you are a circle with no circumference.  Some enlightened folks seem to connect with all the joy in the world, and make this work.   Others connect with all the joy AND pain in the world, and frankly they are beyond my understanding.  I can but bow.

But these people do not function in the “real” world of adult responsibilities.  Either they are wandering mendicants, or retreat to monastaries, or are supported by some community.  They can barely gather for themselves.

 

And can never care for others, especially helpless children.  They cannot function.

The continuum of consciousness goes from:

Sleeping Child to

Sleeping Adult to

Awakened Adult (Awakened Children are rare and precious) to

Awakened Adult with Intermittent non-dualistic awareness to

Awakened Adult with sustained non-dualistic awareness to

States grouped under the category “Enlightened” which have no linguistic equivalents.

 

For all practical purposes, the only states that can be discussed in an essay like this are the first two: Sleeping Child to Sleeping Adult.   They are the realm of consensus reality, the adult “everyday world.”  This is the root.    And just as emotional/spiritual pain can anchor in the “root” of body, such that you have to process it before you can heal, such pain also anchors in the “root” of the adult “mundane” world.

 

Navigating the “hunting gathering” of finance.  Fail to do this in the natural world and you starve.

 

Navigating the “natural balance” of action-reaction, resources and gathering, fitness and avoidance of predators, attraction-attracted aspect of the physical body leads to joy in movement, facility, energy, health, and the ability to attract the people you are attracted to.  Failing to do this in the natural world equals death.

 

Asking if an animal can navigate the territory of self-love is generally a fool’s question.  Their survival drives are wired TIGHT.  They automatically take care of themselves, and an animal that does not is immediately known to be sick.  I’m afraid I have to ask you to apply this same rule to human existence.

 

These three arenas: Finance/Career, Health/Fitness, and Self love/Relationship are the “root” of our existence.   TRYING TO BYPASS THEM IS A GRAVE ERROR.   If you awaken your self-love, and have been abused, you will likely deal with massive anger at the people who damaged and discounted you.    Anger is fear.  The antidote for fear is gratitude.

 

In other words, you can safely address the root through your “Morning Ritual” in the following fashion:

 

  1. Start with Heartbeat Meditation, listening to/feeling your heartbeat, connecting with the source of love.
  2. Focus until you can connect with the loving child within you.   Even if only the potential of a single fertilized cell.  If necessary, seek support for this from a teacher or professional hypnotist, meditation teacher, therapist.  My own “Ancient Child” technique is powerful.
  3. MOVE YOUR BODY.   Your emotions are directed by your focus, the questions you ask, and the way you breathe, tense-relax your muscles, and hold your posture.  10-20 minutes with a daily commitment to improve 1% at this daily.
  4. WHILE MOVING, focus on the things you are grateful for.   IF you cannot think of anything, you have defined an area where you are lying to yourself.   Would you miss your eyesight?  Yes?  Then why the hell aren’t you grateful for it now???  Miss internet access when its gone?  Yes?  Why the hell aren’t you grateful for it now???  EVERYONE has things they could be grateful for if they decided. Without exception.   Musashi’s first Principle is “Do Not Think Dishonestly”.   If you can’t get through this first doorway YOU ARE A SLEEPING CHILD, blaming the world for choices YOU have made, even if it is only to accept the poisoned values spoon-fed you as a child.  Or the similar poison fed to you by a sexual partner: the values communicated to you when your reproductive circuits are open are hellaceously tenacious.   You CAN’T think your way out of that box…but you CAN MOVE YOUR WAY out of them.  Focus.  Move.
  5. When you can access those emotions.  It may take time and practice. Give yourself 30 days!  Find a partner and report DAILY on your practice.   A virtual partner here on FB can work beautifully.  If your negative ego shell is too strong YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO KEEP IT UP FOR 30 DAYS.  Which means that if you get enough leverage on yourself, MAKE yourself do this, YOU WILL CHANGE.  YOU WILL HEAL.  However hard it is, you have identified the medicine that can save you.    And brothers and sisters, once you identify ONE thing that will change your life, you need “only” find the allies, powers and faith that enable you to do that ONE THING.

 

The “Morning Ritual” can be this ONE THING for you. Connecting with your heart.  Connecting with the animal reproductive circuits that can turn a passive frightened animal into a snarling monster protecting its young.  SEPARATING the “adult” from the “child” so that your heart is safe and that Mommy/Daddy animal self protects it at all costs…reaping love in the process.

 

Do NOT drain that energy away by trying to heal the world, until you have healed yourself.  Your children will starve. They will hate you for your neglect, and you lose the very creativity you need to solve your life issues and progress.

 

You remain asleep, enmeshed in a nightmare you feed with your own lack of direction. Change this by asking a ONE question: HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY MORNING RITUAL BY 1% TODAY?

 

That single question can save your sanity, so long as you can take the ACTION of actually performing your ritual for 10-20 minutes daily.

 

There it is: something anyone can do.   The question is: will you love yourself enough to do it?

 

Only you can answer that question, but I pray your answer will be “yes.”

 

Namaste,

Steve

Writing to Change Minds

 

A few weeks back I was asked to participate in a conference where the question was:

How do we change the world as writers?

As part of this, I recorded an interview with a lovely lady named Laura Leigh Clarke (great English accent!) who quizzed me on this, and a number of factors that will make the difference when you’re looking to influence society through your writing.

You can catch the interview here:

“The Thinking Work of Writing Material That Can Change Minds”

http://everythingstory.org/Steven_Interview

In this interview I discussed:

  • the first, and little talked about step, to writing something that can create change
  • the important distinctions to be aware of in gender differences
  • how to use questions to overcome prejudices, and limitations in beliefs
  • the main driver in writing powerful material
  • the “carrier tone” to having you message really heard
  • how to rob your reader of his chance to argue with you!  (This is sneaky stuff, and scared the crap out of Plato)

And much more…

Now be forewarned–this is part of a larger effort to raise awareness and resources to change society, and I’m just a little cog in a much larger wheel.  But that can be good, because Laura is a savvy lady and I think she’s put together an excellent roster of other people you can learn from.

When you register to view the interview (free!) you will also receive access to interviews from a host of experts including:

  • successful indie authors, and show makers,
  • peacekeepers on nation-building,
  • professional screenwriters, and film makers,
  • futurists in the areas of webisodes, filmmaking and publishing,
  • developmental psychologists, and cultural historians,
  • people who are changing the economies of whole countries through education,
  • people who are using scriptwriting to change the lives of young offenders,
  • change makers who are making it safer for women in India, and around the world, through their documentaries

… and even a few philosophers!

This insight will give you the thinking and knowledge to write some world-changing material.

Go ahead and register for this material (for free) whilst it’s still available

http://everythingstory.org/Steven_Interview

Write with Passion!

Steve

P.S. this is part of a bigger project – Storytelling for Social Profit: The Summit, where experts from a range of disciplines were interviewed in order to give you, as a storyteller, a grounding in tangible tipping points that will create a difference in the world.

The full schedule of free interviews is clickable at the bottom of the page where you view my interview.

Go ahead and watch my interview: “The Thinking Work of Writing Material That Can Change Minds”

http://everythingstory.org/Steven_Interview

A Bridge Too Far

I don’t feel that I have much useful to say directly about the upcoming inauguration.  Indirectly, sure, and I do.   But when I see something  that simply strikes me as deeply, problematically  illogical, I think commenting is appropriate.   And I’ve seen, repeated many times, now, a meme I find impossible to believe sincere.

There were two things that put Trump out of the running for my vote from the get-go.   One was that he had never held elected office, so I had no idea at all how he might function within one.  I might have made an exception for a high-ranked military man.    I do believe that there are intelligent reasons a person could disagree with me, and obviously many do, and did.

 

The other was his dogged, endless Birtherism.  Why I consider this problematic is another essay.  If you think an intelligent, emotionally balanced adult would think the idea plausible, that’s your business.   I do not, and see no useful conversation to be had on the subject.

What I WILL address is the notion that  people think that because one of the people  in Hillary’s campaign floated the “Birther” notion first, there is some faint equivalence.  Or even that “she started it.”

No.

First of all, it is impossible to determine “who started it”, who first suggested that Obama was not a  Citizen, that in fact he sat at the center of a vast, complex, and ultimately time-traveling conspiracy to defraud the American people.    Conspiracy theories about any remarkable incident rise up like toadstools after the rain.  Trying to figure out which sprouted first is a fool’s errand.  And in the arena of black leaders, there has ALWAYS been a sort of person who wanted and needed to believe that any resistance, or movement, or leader with a brown face was actually a puppet for some white guy somewhere.   I heard such things about MLK, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, the NAACP, the Black Panthers, and on and on and on.  So it was 100% predictable that the same thing would happen with Obama.  Who was first?  Not a real issue.

If   this was a positive thing, if Trump had made dozens (hundreds, probably) of statements about, say, Veterans Benefits, but Clinton never mentioned the issue, but some functionary downstream  in her campaign floated the notion, would there be some equivalence between them?  Would she deserve remotely as much credit?   Of course not.  The fact that she hadn’t said it herself would be a valid criticism:  she didn’t consider it important or practical or useful or in alignment with her values, and it would be asinine for her or any of her supporters to claim that she was on Trump’s level on that issue.

 

Whether positive or negative, one Trump comment equals one Clinton comment.

 

One Comment from someone X removed from Clinton is equivalent to One Comment from someone X removed from Trump.   Whether positive or negative.

 

The NUMBER of times you say it also factors in: If I say something X times, it is equivalent to  you saying the same thing X times.

 

Context would matter: a private conversation as opposed to a television interview, for instance.  Spontaneous statements as opposed to planned and carefully written speeches. And so on.

 

If you think the “Birther” thing was harmless nonsense, that’s your position.  I take no pleasure from saying this, but if you considered it a grave and sobering concern, please don’t tell me.    Just quietly unfriend me, because we will never see eye to eye on this, and I don’t enjoy thinking poorly of people.

But I cannot believe that an intelligent person really believes that what  I say, personally, is in any way equivalent to what some employee or neighbor or relative of yours says.   That you are as responsible, positively or negatively, as I am even if you didn’t say it and I did.

Please, just don’t defend this one around me.  I consider it a  political   meme trying to justify something done to win an election. Smirk, laugh, pat each other on the back if you want, on your own time and in your own threads.  But don’t try to tell me the situations are equivalent, because that is a bridge too far.  I have little interest in politics, but a great deal of interest in the truth.   The question “what is true?” is central here, and what is true is that I just don’t believe these things are equivalent, or that any intelligent and sane person really does.  But that I do believe that politics twists people into saying and defending indefensible positions.   One of the reasons I dislike the entire arena, and marvel at the people who manage to enter it without tarring their souls entirely.

In some contexts, bullshit helps roses grow.   Whatever happens next in America, this is not that context.

Thank you.

Steve

Controlling your emotions

Enthusiasm.jpg

(Note: if you are dealing with a clinical issue, you need to have your doctor in on this discussion, and any medications prescribed would most certainly fit under the “how you use your body) category.

One of the things people notice in Hollywood when they first start working there is how excited everyone is to meet you.  BIG fans of your work.  Can’t wait to see what you have!

And…at first you believe it. Then you notice they say it to everyone, and get disillusioned. But then…well…I can’t speak for others, but I noticed something.

Enthusiasm, PASSION, was the fuel for all projects.   Without it, nothing happens.  So what you had in these meetings was people throwing their hat over the fence, bringing up their passions over and over again, hoping that something that they hear in the next half-hour will sustain that investment.

In other words, they aren’t faking, they’re HOPING.  Praying. That SOMETHING they hear today will get their juices going.  Because otherwise, its just a paycheck.   If you don’t look down on these folks, you’ll see that they are smart, well-educated, hard-working (they often work late, and on weekends), and while most of the execs cannot create, they RECOGNIZE creativity, at least when it appeals to them.  That’s all they can really do, right?   Say “wow. I like this.”  And the trick in pitching in Hollywood is to “read the room”, to figure out who the alpha dog in the room is, watch their body language, know when you’ve “hooked” them and play to them, then carefully watch the others and see what turns THEM on as well.

Enthusiasm. You want them PASSIONATE about your work.  And if your attitude is: “I’m great, it’s up to you to recognize how great I am” you had better be exceptional.   But if you are “merely” excellent, and can play to their passions, you can do as well.

The point here is not about getting stuff made in Hollywood, it is that you operate like a corporation.  The “Parts Party” exercise will show you that it is possible, efficient and effective to view yourself as composed of many different parts, with different priorities: security, adventure, passion, contribution, guilt…all sortsa different folks.

 

And the more of them you get “on board” with your projects, the easier it is to sustain a day of high-energy work.  With a board meeting, I look at it as threading moving needles.  Similar metaphor can work for our own hearts.

ENTHUSIASM.  Not just “I have to pay the bills.”  Get both your LOVE and your FEAR working for you.   You can recognize people motivated by fear.  They run until exhausted, or trudge forward with the attitude of a scourged martyr carrying a cross to Golgotha.  One foot ahead of the other.  Tote that barge!  Lift that bale!

Wow.    But the truth is that the “enthusiasm” attitude doesn’t just happen naturally for most people.  It is generated by focus and action.  Remember that your emotions are created by: what you focus on, the language you use, and the way you use your body.

 

You connect all three of them in the “Morning Ritual”. If your demons are too active, you literally WILL NOT be able to do it for more than a day or two. Every possible reason will arise to stop you.  All of them are lying to you.

If you start by asking WHAT you want, and WHY you want it, the HOW you’re going to achieve it becomes clearer. And if you get really basic, go deep, you’ll see that there are multiple ways of accomplishing your goals.  IF YOU CANNOT SEE AT LEAST THREE WAYS TO REACH YOUR GOAL, YOU NEED TO GO DEEPER.

If you constantly keep your mind on WHAT you want, and all the passion, pleasure, contribution, adventure, security and freedom your goal will give you, and associate those emotions to the intermediate steps, (weekly/monthly outcomes) and your immediate actions (daily to-do) now you are able to feel excited about things that most people just “blah” their way through.  You are controlling your mental/emotional apparatus.

Take these two things: Focus, language, movement.   WHAT do you want, WHY  do you want it, and ONLY then ask HOW do you spend your time today to make it happen. Weave them together into a 10-20 minute Morning Ritual.

In one week, you’ll know whether I’m right about this.  Seek to make your Morning Ritual 1% better, clearer, more powerful every day.  And then see what happens to the rest of your life.

Namaste,

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transforming from the Core

 

The “Core Transformation” technique, IMO, proves that every human behavior, no matter how negative, is ultimately a search for a connection to the divine (or, perhaps, to that sense of peace we experienced in the womb.)  As a coaching or therapeutic tool, you work through a client’s motivations, moving backwards through “What was the intent of that behavior?  X?  And if you had all the X you desired, what then?” until you get through all fear to a sense of love and centeredness. It is fascinating.   Even more fascinating is that from this place, lies, violence, cheating, self-destructive behavior and stealing as well as other dishonest or damaging actions are revealed as the “low road” to fulfillment, and the person begins to make better choices.

 

Lonnie Athens, in “Why They Kill”, states that there are multiple stages of programming a criminal goes through: Brutalization (or violent horrification), Rebellion, Acting out with progressive results, finding a supportive tribe, and internalizing their values.  That by the time a criminal reaches that last stage, there is no known form of rehabiliation that can  prevent recidivism.

 

I wonder what would happen if “Core Transformation” was applied, since what the criminal wants is the sense of security violated in the original Brutalization phase.  They move away from pain, and adapt behaviors that give them power and security, ultimately finding a “Tribe” of like-minded people who provide him support for his values, values designed to prevent the Brutalization from ever happening again. But what if that criminal felt genuinely secure and connected?  Could you then un-hook their behavior from the survival drive that motivates it, allowing them to change?

 

Perhaps so.   The HERO’S JOURNEY details the movement from one level of energy and integration to another, as if strata of Maslow’s Hierarchy.   It might be seen as the reverse of Athen’s descent into homicidal hell.  Positive and negative could be mapped as a sort of Yin-Yang whole.  If you combine the HJ and the Chakras, keeping in mind that the pattern can go up and down or sideways, you can glimpse a dynamic sphere of human interaction that is uniquely powerful.

 

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Pull back for a moment.

If you look at any goal you desire, you can push yourself toward it with fear, or pull yourself toward it with love.   Sadly, people who are “fear” driven often don’t even believe the love approach is possible.  In a similar way, they cannot believe that if you BEGIN with the feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment and joy they think they can only experience at the END step of accomplishment, you will languish and stagnate. That’s an unfortunate view of human nature, and I wouldn’t want to live in their skin. That would either be a negative view of themselves, or a very bleak view of others.  Maybe both.

 

The idea that you “don’t accomplish to be happy, but happily accomplish” is the attitude being described here, based on the notion that it is our natural state to evolve as individuals as well as a species.   You can explore this question for yourself: if you were happy, fulfilled, joyful…would you accomplish more or less?  I suggest that this cannot be resolved with thought experiments, or observations of people on drugs (“those lotus eaters are happy, and they don’t do anything at all!” isn’t half as clever an argument as one might think.)

 

Are you willing to try an experiment for, say, seven days, just one week, to find out for yourself?  If not, frankly,  your opinion on the matter is probably driven by guilt and fear-based programming given to you in childhood, and I can only offer you sympathy.

 

But the rest of you?  Buckle up.

 

  1. Start with deep diaphragmatic breathing, sixty seconds every three hours.  This short-circuits the “stress into strain” “fight or flight” response.
  2. Expand the Morning session out.  In addition to the breathing create a Morning Ritual of motion, emotion, and mental focus lasting 10-20 minutes.    Move through gratitude, goals, affirmations, and visualization of your goals WHILE YOU MOVE YOUR BODY.
  3. FLOOD yourself with gratitude for past blessings.  If you think you have none, YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF.    If you lost your eyesight, would you be unhappy?  Wish you had it back?  Then, dammit, why not celebrate it now!!  No human child can survive unless it was nurtured at some point.  If you have to go all the way back to THAT memory, or imagined embrace, then do it. It is a starting place.  A foundation on which to build.
  4. Swear that you will protect and love your own heart, essence, “inner child” with everything you’ve got.  With all the love hard-wired genetically into human adults, the protectiveness for the helpless child that is pan-cultural and even pan-species.    Go deep.   Go deep enough, and all that remains is love.   Connect to this, and you can root out all the damage and disappointment, discover a source of power you’ve never known.
  5. Know WHAT you want, and WHY you want it BEFORE you decide HOW you will do it.  You must place yourself in a positive, powerful state before you brainstorm or mastermind answers.  This is like rising up in a balloon.  As you ascend you see more and more of the territory.  If you know you’re trying to get to a specific mountain, by rising up you can orient yourself for another day. Then you “just” problem solve what you need to do THAT day, one day at a time, and if you do that day after day, you’ll reach the mountain, every time.

 

After connecting with your love, and clearly visualizing your goal, and flooding yourself with positive emotions, NOW you are ready for your day.  Do this for just seven days.  In the morning, list the things you need to do to move toward this outcome, while filled with the positive emotions you will experience by reaching it.  At the end of the day track your progress.

 

Do this for seven days, and you’ll be shocked by how much more you achieve, and how much fun you had doing it.

 

Remember: WHAT you want, only then WHY you want it, only then HOW you will spend your time and energy.  If you need a map to get there, study the lives of people who have accomplished similar things starting from similar (or worse) circumstances, to learn how they managed their energy, time, mental focus, emotions, and actions (or for NLP people: Belief Systems, Mental Syntax, and Physiology).

 

If you can read this, I promise you that there are people who had less, and did better, than you.  The only question is: do you love yourself enough to try the experiment?

 

If you do, I’ll be right here cheering for you.  If not…god DAMN whoever poisoned you against your own heart.   I promise you didn’t do it to yourself.  And I’ll keep fighting to ally myself with the part of you trying to get out of that trap.  And swear I’ll never stop.

 

Namaste,

Steve

Raising Your Energy

If I’m experimenting with a single central goal, something to focus all my  intention upon: 1% daily improvement of my Morning Ritual, I now know WHAT my outcome is, but to lock in the motivation I need to know WHY I want it.   One reason is “to increase my energy.” And why do I want to increase my energy?  “To have more passion and Juice in my life. To be able to steamroller obstacles. Have endless energy to brainstorm answers and implement them. To provide for my family, to keep rapport with my son. To inspire and lead my community. To change any negative habit pattern so that I can be the very best I can be. To overcome fear and sloth, because ENERGY means I have access to the very best I can be, whenever I want to tap it.”

ENERGY is one of the most important aspects of life.  Inevitably, when people are discouraged or “stuck”, they feel drained of energy.  Looking for work, trying to deal with problems, dealing with an illness…all block your energy.  When we feel energetic and alive we simply see answers that cannot be seen when we are exhausted, and we believe we can achieve them.  If you feel tired, look into the following arenas: one or more of them will always provide a “boost”.  Put all of them together and you’ll have unstoppable power.

In general, there are three physical guardians to your energy, and one mental/emotional one:

  1. Exercise.   HOW YOU MOVE YOUR BODY.   The fastest way to describe the physical aspects is that every day you eat, you should move.  Sweat every day, in proportion to the amount  of energy it would have taken your ancestors to hunt, gather, or avoid predators.  Stretch and perform joint mobility to take off your “brakes” so that your movement is always becoming more efficient and effective.  Increase your strength to weight ratio.   There are a thousand ways to accomplish this…joint mobility and walking are a fine place to start, as are the Five Tibetans.  If you’re smart enough, you can handle your basic physical exercise needs in only about an hour a week.
  2. Diet.   Are you eating for energy, or emotions?  Health, or Taste ?  For how you want to feel TOMORROW or how you want to feel in the next ten minutes?    Consciously or unconsciously? Want to know one of the best and fastest ways to heal this wound?  1) Get a clear image of how you want to look and feel.  2) Use your cell phone camera to take a picture of EVERYTHING YOU EAT before you eat it.  Unless your current habits match your blueprint, you CANNOT do this for 30 days without making changes.  If you can’t do it for 30 days, your issue is mental/emotional, not physical.
  3. Rest.  The average person needs 7-9  hours of sleep a day.   The average person who complains about lack of energy and focus seems to get 5-6 hours.  The gap is your aliveness. There are so many approaches here: improving your sleep space, shutting down the TV earlier, not eating within 2 hours of bed time, practicing Yoga Nidra (“Warrior Sleep”), practicing calming yoga stretches such as the “Moon Salutation” improve time management, and on and on.
  4. Focus.  WHAT do you want the energy for?  WHY do you want it? The clearer you are on these two things, the easier it is to tap into your reserves.  And this is available without any other changes: you don’t have to be fitter, eat better, or sleep more.  PASSION by itself will raise your capacity.

 

Measure yourself from 1-10 in each of these arenas.   And if you are less than “8” in any of them, you know where you need to focus!

 

Your “Morning Ritual” can help with ALL of these.

  1. You can literally make the movement your exercise (hill walking is a great aerobic exercise)
  2. Affirmations can implant new behaviors and beliefs in alignment with raising your energy
  3. Visualization of your goals can clarify WHAT you want the energy for, and HOW you will raise it.
  4. Flooding yourself with gratitude and love can connect you with WHY you want the energy.

 

1-10 in each area: Exercise, Diet, Rest, Focus. Where are YOU in each of them?

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

1% daily growth be the secret?

Daily ritual.jpg

 

I’d mentioned that  I wanted to focus down in 2017, in some very specific ways.   One of them was trying to  identify the SINGLE arena of life which, if I focused in on it, would give me the maximum benefit.  My first thought was the “Morning Ritual” because it connects with so many other things: focus, health, fitness, stress relief, goal setting, and more.

 

But…and I’m only considering it today (who knows what I’ll think tomorrow!) I might be better off if I concentrated on the “Five Minute Miracle” concept.  Here’s my reasoning.  Does this make sense?

  1. The basic concept is that once every 3 hours you stop and do deep diaphragmatic ‘Belly Breaths” for 60 second. This short-circuits the stress-strain response beautifully, so that  you act with resourcefulness.  We are rarely short of resources.   History suggests that what we really lack is resourcefulness.
  2. The Russian “Synaptic  facilitation” technique says that if you want to learn something, you’re better off breaking it into smaller chunks and practice them during the day piggybacked on a “5MM” style approach: 5 12-minute piano sessions will teach you more than one 60-minute session.  So if I have different strength, fitness, or skill components that can be related to, say, proper breathing I can “learn” an advanced breathing technique by focusing in this fashion, with multiple positive effects (for instance: the capacity to shift my mood on demand.  HUGELY valuable!)
  3. My morning meditation can be one of the 5MM.  This includes Ancient Child and Mneumonics and heartbeat meditation.  Clarifying my goals, pumping up my emotions, and seeing what I need to do today to fulfill my destiny.
  4. The “Morning Ritual” can be the second 5MM.  This is goals, Tai Chi, shifting emotions again…connecting my mind, body, and emotions all in the same package. While initially complex, what an amazing diagnostic tool!   I can tell where I am energetically simply by looking at my resistance to practicing it.   But if (when…I rarely miss!) I KNOW that my day will be positive, efficient, effective, and I’ve started my day with a lovely joint mobility practice.  Further, I’ve connected EVERYTHING I do with my ultimate life goals as well as my yearly goals.   Wow.  That means that every single thing I do all day long has personal meaning.  And…if I am distracted later in the day, I’ve handled my basic physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.  That’s huge “bang for the buck.”
  5. The 3rd “5MM” is my actual workout.  These days that’s alternating an Ashtanga Yoga short form (my body is still recovering its former facility with this 30-minute practice), or a combination of martial arts and Pavel’s “Simple and Sinister” Kettlebell program.  Serious, powerful stuff.   Hate it while I’m doing it until I remember WHY I’m doing it, WHY the strength and health and energy are critical to my core goals and disciplines, how it benefits my writing, family life, financial and martial goals.  Everything fits together.  Everything reinforces everything else.
  6. The 4th “5MM” is working with my Kali sticks.  Danny Inosanto encouraged me to pick these back up, with the comment that there is something magical about them.  I agree. Something in the circularity feels like winding up a spring which then slowly unwinds during the day. Storing elastic energy, perhaps?  I don’t know.  What I DO know is that if I ever got to the point of doing this for about 2 minutes an hour…I’d be the Prince of Wakanda.
  7. The 5th 5MM segment is before I go to bed. That’s pure joint mobility.   Releasing the tension from my body for sleep.  Done gently, playfully, and for the sheer fun of it.

 

I look at that. Where does it start?  In simple breathing for sixty seconds, five times a day.  And I can see how it would build.  Total time invested at the highest levels?   About an hour a day.   And if I could actually stay on that path, can I see ANYTHING I desire in life I wouldn’t have?  Any obligations I wouldn’t fulfill joyously?  Would the little kid inside me be tickled as hell? (Prince of Wakanda?  Hell ya!) . Would my “Inner Elder” approve?  I think yes.  Because although I am leveraging my ego to provide motivation, ultimately every action, every breath, every step, every word I write is all in the service of my soul, all in the light of the divine.

 

I may change my mind tomorrow. But right now, today, it feels like an expanding fractal pattern, starting with five minutes and growing to a program complex and challenging enough to keep me on my toes and lead me anywhere I could ever want to go.

 

Wow. Just a thought.  Kinda fun though, doncha think?

 

Namaste,

Steve

A “classic” thought on enlightenment

the following was a Dar Kush post trom 2007.  My concern about Jason is no longer relevant.  Circumstances have demonstrated to me my core personality, and I no longer wonder if I would still fulfill my duties to him were my ego cocoon unraveled.  Commitment to my family is wired in at a level deeper than that.

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Had a long conversation with Mushtaq yesterday about definitions. He is concerned that my use of the term “Enlightenment” carries with it certain baggage that might actually impede my ability to attain it. Fair enough. But I have a very specific meaning, which might not be exactly the dictionary definition, or even the originally intended definition:

Sustained, non-dualistic awareness or “awakeness.” Asking yourself multiple times during the day “am I awake” will eventually alert you to the fact that there are variable levels of this quality, and lead you to deeper and higher clarity. But (in my mind) the moments in which you are “awake” must be sustained until the ego shell crumbles. This ego-death is, so far as I can see, permanent. Now, you can put your old ego back on, sort of like an ill-fitting suit, to interact with other humans and live in this world. But “you” are gone. Looked at this way, “you” cannot become enlightened. But you can die, and release the truth of your existence. What exists on the other side of this is NOT the same as what existed before…but your friends and families are likely to misunderstand. Because this “new” being experiences the world in a completely different fashion, it may be difficult to relate to your old life and intimate relationships.

This is the reason that I ain’t sprinting toward enlightenment. I’m happy to graze around the edges: I have a family to raise, and a wife to love. And I will accept nothing less than fulfilling this joyous and sacred obligation. But when Jason is grown…well, I will have different options. And “I” want to see what’s out there, even at the cost of “my” own existence. “I” want truth. Truth is more important than life itself. As is honor.

But don’t worry about accidentally triggering this change, folks. Unless you’re meditating six hours a day on the secret mantra of DubbleBubble, you ain’t gonna wake up in the Kundalini Equation. That would be roughly equivalent to the guys who don’t want to lift weights because they “don’t want to look like Arnold.” Yeah, right. Ten years of six hours a day, perfect genetics, perfect diet, the drive of Attila the Hun, and a healthy dose of chemical stimulation might get you there. Your little hour a day in the gym? Not a prayer. These “outer edge” accomplishments are for the obsessed. It’s like saying “I don’t want to go for a walk, because I might end up in New York.”

Heroes Accepts the Challenge

In step three, The hero is defined as “One Who Accepts The Challenge”

What is it that motivates you to take action?   The process is to Clarify the outcomes that mean the most to you, long term.  It is valuable to differentiate between goals and means to those goals.  Be sure that your core outcomes are things YOU can do, that depend upon the person YOU are, or become.  And make them inspiring but possible: a goal of perfection is no goal at all.  Unconsciously, we KNOW perfection is beyond human achievement in all but the most trivial arenas (tic tac toe, anyone?).  But we CAN be excellent.  We CAN be Outstanding.

 

If your vision inspires you, and you are not currently moving toward it, then it is safest to assume that you have emotional blockage: values conflicts, voices in your head, aversive responses.  Look at the four major arenas of your life: body, career, relationships, finances.   What are emotions arise when you think of being dynamically fit, successful, happily bonded, and financially secure?  Content?  Excited?   Or fearful, angry, resigned or depressed?  You will HAVE to take your brakes off to get access to your real abilities.  Considering that most of the Big Four are simply human equivalents of accomplishments most animals seem to manage, the question must arise: why do so many people have a problem reaching these goals.  Heck, I’ve been there too: I’m not talking to YOU, I’m talking to myself.

 

For most of us, it becomes easier not to try, easier to pretend we don’t want these things.  Some people actually create entire philosophies “norming” failure in these arenas, surrounding themselves with people who agree that it is impossible to succeed, or impossible to succeed unless some impossible external standard is achieved.   To do this they have to ignore all the people who DO succeed, which means that they begin deleting information.  And that deletion creature, once awakened, will eat your entire life.

 

So the third step of the journey is ACCEPTANCE of the challenge. Saying I WILL.   I MUST.  In stories,   the character finally hits “threshold” where it becomes more painful to stay the same than to change.  IN a Sherlock Holmes story, Holmes is trapped in a malaise that can consume him unless some external challenge arouses his intellect.   In literary tales, a character often refuses the real challenge of changing his life, falling back into that “quiet desperation” thing.  They must DECIDE.

 

And they do this by associating more pleasure than pain with action, more pain than pleasure to staying still.  That’s it.  When you have enough reasons WHY you will find the HOW.  There’s a T-Shirt: “If you can’t live without me, why aren’t you dead?”   IF you have really staked your existence upon an action, you are either achieving that reaction OR YOU ARE DEAD.

 

Here’s the trick: I know countless people living that quiet desperation. And many who have actually died for lack of direction, focus, commitment to their own lives, their own dreams.   But few who have actually died from commitment to a worthy, well considered goal.   I can’t say “none” because accidents happen. But LACK of a motivating, courageously approached intention is far more deadly, destroys lives, marriages, health, and hope.

 

Choose.   Decide.    Clarify your outcome, and clarify the emotions that will motivate you.   Invariably, if you try to reach a goal and quit, you didn’t have many reasons to do it.  Those who power their way toward success, however they define it, have COUNTLESS reasons to achieve, to get up early and stay up late, all woven together into an actual self-definition.  I AM THE PERSON WHO CAN DO THIS.

 

THAT’S their internal dialogue.   Not a catalogue of excuses why not.  And surrounding themselves with people who say “poor baby” instead of supporting you in believing you CAN and SHOULD have the life satisfaction you desire and deserve.

 

Make your choice.  Step forward, or fall back. There IS no standing still.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve