Martial Arts

Bless their hearts

I remember seeing a girl crying at a science fiction convention.  I approached her gently and we began to speak.  I don’t remember the content of the conversation, but I know she stopped crying, and laughed, and seemed better. Many years later, I found out she was the niece of a friend.  Even later, she told me that I was the only man who had ever helped her without wanting sex in return.

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I don’t like politics.     I respond to the world from my instincts and feelings, informed by my intellect and perceptions.   I get criticized all the time because I don’t accept THIS political position about race or racism, or THAT position about gender and sexism.  Not my responsibility.  My only responsibility is to be true to myself, and to tell the truth about the world I see, and to be happy and spread joy.  Do I sometimes bend over backwards to see the good in people?  No more than I do to see the good in my own heart.

 

I’ve fucked up, friends.  Hurt people.  Burned ants with a magnifying glass like every other kid, until it hit me one day that those ants were living things.  Trapped butterflies in our old Studebaker to toast them until I realized they could feel pain.  Swung kittens by their paws until I realized they felt fear.

 

At some point, it CLICKS IN and you start seeing yourself in others.  They have feelings to. You feel your own blood pulsing in their veins.  It is transformative, and from that point on, you cannot deliberately and capriciously hurt ants or butterflies or kittens or people without being an evil thing.  You are no longer DOING evil…you are BEING evil. An enormous difference to me.

 

We all DO evil things from time to time in our lives, but if we ever awaken and realize what we’re doing, and continue to do it, we ARE evil.

 

Only if you’ve done your work, and rarely even then.  No, its about you, and the person in the mirror.  WE are the problem. There’s no one out there.

 

There is nothing more absurd than people fighting on Facebook, arguing about how the politicians in Washington are these corrupt monsters who never get anything done. Don’t they notice how difficult it is to get consensus on the simplest things once you are dealing with a person with an opposing position?   Don’t they grasp that if THEY held the reins of power, they would be just as inefficient and  excoriated?

 

Not to say there aren’t sleepers, snakes, and monsters. Oh yes.   But the monsters need us to be at each others’ throats.  For the sheepdogs to fight among themselves while the wolves steal lambs.

 

If men cannot understand women, and women not understand men, the only possible conclusion is that those who cannot are blind.   We live amongst each other.  EVERYONE knows someone of the opposite sex. Everyone.   Without exception.   The only possible answer is that those who don’t grasp the humanity are blind to their own emotions, cut off from their own strength or softness.  You need BOTH to be a human being, but we have agreed to specialize for the sake of efficiency.  In the 21st Century, in a world of automatic weapons, machines, and birth control, the artificial differences between male and female are being reduced.

 

What we are left with is the realization that we are they, and they are us.

 

Love yourself.  Love one other person.

 

Could the Harvey Weinsteins of the world do what they do if they really loved themselves? Really knew how to love another human being? Really SAW others?

 

I think not.  Maybe he is a monster, who sees, and does not care.   But he may also simply be a twisted, stunted, broken man on a level that is difficult to see through the surface charm and intelligence and success.

 

Would he want someone to treat his mother that way?  His sister?  His daughter?  Yes?  He is a monster.

 

No? Then he lacks that crucial capacity to extend his own humanity to others.  He may think to himself “hey, if all I had to do to get ahead was fuck someone, I’d do it in a heartbeat!”  without realizing that to believe this, and act upon it,  he has to have deleted countless screams and struggles and protests.  There is no way for him to be simply asleep: it happened too many times.   He may be a snake.  It is not the fault of a snake to be born venomous.

 

But there is a part of me that thinks he may well be beyond that category. Too much deliberate planning. Too much corruption of others to support his actions. Too much convenient denial and leaning on the ‘I’ll go to rehab!” trope that really means: “I’ll manipulate you into forgiving me, sucker.”

 

No. For the sake of our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, it is safest to do a bit of “mind reading” here and assume he is a monster.   It simply isn’t safe to assume him even a snake.

 

Come little girl.  I am the guardian of the gate to all you dream of. All you have to do is exchange the most precious thing in the world, the path to the creation of life, everything you were ever taught was beyond rubies, and let me treat it like used Kleenex. Then you can have that career.

 

But you will never, ever be able to feel that you earned that success through your heart and soul and talent. I will always be leering at you from the other side of the spotlights, sniggering and whispering and telling my drunken buddies what you did to get that role.  I’ll know. They’ll know.

 

And YOU’LL know.  

 

I’ll own you..

 

And Satan took Jesus to the mountaintop and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and said, all this and more can you have, if only you bow before me…

 

Get on your knees, bitch.

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I am beyond anger about these things.  Human beings have been exploiting their power for their own gain forever.    Men do it their way, women do it theirs.   The problem is a human one, and no, I won’t take sides.

 

But if you touch my sister, my daughter, my mother and hurt them, shame them, I want you to know that they are under my protection.  Yes, I train them to protect themselves.  Want them to clarify what they would die for, and be prepared to blind a predator who will not respect them.

 

I like the IMAGE of the European knight.   Not the historical reality, but the image. All of that martial skill, and the sword, and the lance, and the armor, and the fiery steed and lethal intent.   But all of that aggression was supposed to be:  “At your service, m’lady.”

 

That is the image in my heart, that I swore to live up to.  I don’t always succeed. But that is what is there.

 

And here’s the bad news: EVERY woman is my sister, my daughter, my mother.   Yes, I’m an asshole. No, I don’t play politics and will say what I see.  But when the rubber meets the road, the fact that a girl can tell me I’m the ONLY man who ever helped her without asking for sex makes me want to vomit.  Yes, I once burned ants and butterflies, and swung kittens by the paws, and didn’t understand.  Just…didn’t understand.

 

And then woke up, and saw myself in them.  It costs us to awaken.   Means that we have to deal with the fact that we don’t have the right to do as we wish to others. That we are EVIL if we treat human beings as means rather than ends.

 

But…we cannot really love ourselves, or anyone else, if we don’t treat every human being as an end in herself.

 

Be gentle with others, and you can be gentle with yourself.  Love others, and you can love yourself.   Protect the children of the world, and you can protect the child within you.  Protect the women of the world, and you can protect the feminine within your heart.  And ladies? If you don’t see the implications about protecting the masculine, you are sleeping too.

 

The kingdoms of the world are made of shit if you have to trade your soul for them. And you are a monster if you ask another to do what would be wrong for you, or your own family, assuming that you manage enough humanity to care about THEM.

 

I remember a documentary about “The Iceman”, a professional hitman who killed without remorse.  Even he managed emotion about his own family, his own children. Maybe it was pretend emotion.  Just putting on the mask of caring because it serves him to do so.   In which case he is an alien.  A total monster.

 

Or maybe he is damaged in some way it is hard to see, so broken that he cannot connect with that space.  FUNCTIONALLY THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. We can empathize with the child he once was before whatever happened to him happened, but if that damage had occurred to me, and I saw what I was doing in the world…I would want someone to kill me if I could not be healed.

 

I believe that any unwarped soul would feel the same.   It would be a blessing to be stopped.

 

So… while I cannot approve of a death penalty wielded by society, when it comes to the monsters of the world,  those who would hurt my daughters and sisters and mother,   I am sorely tempted to say what my Southern sisters say….

 

Bless their hearts.

 

Namaste,

Steve

http://www.lifewrite.com

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Never Quit

When you admit you want something, inability to have it will cause pain.   You will then either put that pain into working harder, or you will let it shut you down.

In my early days of martial arts training, I had great success, taking 2nd place at the National Korean Karate championships in 1972.  I was feeling froggy. Then I saw Steve (Sanders) Muhammad at the Martial Arts Expo in  1974. The speed, power and precision of his motion in a “Mass Attack” skit were devastating. And just as impressive was the fact that despite all the chaos, he never seemed to hurt anyone.   Knees, elbows, palms, fists…all flying with unbelievable speed, focusing within a half-inch of the faces, groins, knees and skulls of the four young men attacking him with no evidence of actual contact or damage.

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(I knew I was looking at something special.   In later years I was actually one of those four attackers, and rather than practicing exhaustively, Steve just told us: “Come at me.”   Unreal. And yes, I felt his palms and foot-scoops impacting with a loving precision that was beyond anything I’ve ever seen since, like Aikido randori taken to some strange and alien level of mastery.   Unreal.  I digress).

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One day I was in the BKF school on Crenshaw boulevard (across the street from Jim Kelly’s school with ‘Black Belt Jones’ in a karate pose above the window. Another story) when a kid, maybe fourteen years old, asked me to spar.  “Sure,” I said. And…

 

He totally kicked my ass. I mean I couldn’t touch him. He just…smoked me. And then strutted around bragging “I beat a man!!”

 

And…it broke something inside my head.   Suddenly, I was right back in junior high school, getting my ass kicked by Rudy or Mark or Bryce.   I’d never learned anything. I’d never BE anything.  Logic fell apart and I fell into an abyss, the gap between the ego I’d developed to protect me and my actual feelings about myself.

 

(To be fair, that fourteen year old was Alvin Prouder, who later became Welterweight Champion of the World. It had been like playing a duet with Baby Mozart.  No contest.)

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Years later, a young black belt sat quietly next to me and asked “when will I stop being afraid?” and I had no answer. And about six months later…he killed himself.

That “gap” will kill you.   Yes, you have to “throw your hat over the fence”, move forward on faith dragging your real sense of self behind you trying to catch up.  If the “gap” is too large, the inevitable disappointments are shattering.   Killing your body will seem less painful than watching your ego-shell crumble.  If it is too short, your lack of daring and ambition will kill your dreams.   Being pessimistic can  your life as much as being  “too optimistic.”

 

For the next years I dropped out of that school, started up somewhere else, got better until the senior students wanted to work with me, and I got scared and dropped out again, repeating that cycle again and again and again.  Unable to quit.  Unable to move forward. I remember one day leaving a Levi jacket in a school and being terrified to go back and get it, for fear someone would  ask me to fight.

 

Trapped in the “gap.”   I remember driving down La Brea avenue, tears streaming down my face, begging God to either give me the strength to go forward, or the wisdom and clarity to quit. I could just quit.   Couldn’t I?  Why keep beating myself up, banging my head against the wall?

 

Because somewhere, on some level, I knew that if I quit, I would never know who I was.  Never find my true strength.  Always be afraid.

 

I went from instructor to coach to therapist to guru to sensei to sifu, begging them to help.  No one did.  I remember sitting in front of a famous Kenpo teacher named Larry Tatum, baring my soul, and asking for help. He stared at me and said: “have you read my book?”  Yeah, I had. Nothing there.

 

Being sent to Fred “Dr. Squat” Hatfield, a fabulous strength athlete known for his master of the “inner game” of iron, interviewing him for Joe Weider’s Muscle and Fitness magazine, and taking the opportunity to ask him if he knew how to help me.  He was wise and kind, hooked me into a biofeedback machine, and got me to visualize the problem situation, then relax.

 

It didn’t help.

 

Not his fault.  This poison went deep.   For over a decade I struggled with this, SOMEHOW, somehow, keeping faith that if I kept pushing, kept going, kept sweating and bleeding and crying and feeling like I wanted to vomit every time I walked in the door…

 

That some day I would be on the “other side” of the problem.

NOTHING BUT FAITH KEPT ME GOING.

 

And then one day, I asked my fateful question for the thousandth time, with no hope that there was an answer.  Asked it of a man named Terry Lettau, a Shorei-Chito Ryu instructor who taught in his garage.  And for the very first time, I got an answer.   He spoke with such clarity and simplicity that I was stunned.  I tried what he suggested, and…and…

 

In about a month, something happened.   I…shifted.   I saw who and what I was, and what the problem had been, so clearly that it was devastating.  I was stunned, and asked him “where in the hell had he learned that technique?”

 

He pointed me toward a man named Harley “Swift Deer” Reagan, a martial arts master who also taught spiritual practices and sexual magic. I sought out Harley (definitely one of My Most Unforgettable Characters), and through him met extraordinary people like Dawn Callan and Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari, and learned to connect the physical with the spiritual in a way that made sense of everything I’d learned before, opening the door to a personal evolution I’d craved all my life…

 

In an instant. In a single conversation, everything changed.

 

There really is “another side” to the walls you’ve run into.   There really are answers. But you have to keep going, keep asking, keep moving.  Keep the faith.  Otherwise you’ll stop, until the pain gets too bad, at which time you will move forward. Until you reach the point where faith is required. And devolve.

 

Forward and back, and forward and back, until you run out of life, and energy, and lie to yourself and say you never wanted it in the first place.  A horrible lie. A terrible place to live out the rest of your life, pretending you didn’t want more.

 

 

Some forget about finding soul mates.  Others despair of fighting for the career they deserve. And then another group never connects mind and heart with body to produce a natural animal grace and function.   They never saw the honor and joy in the process, in keeping FAITH with the childhood dreams, in honoring the wisdom of their Elder self which says: “no matter how small you live, death will not ignore you.”

 

You want it.  On some level you KNOW you want love, and success, and the kind of body that you yourself are attracted to.   And you KNOW when you lie to yourself, and that lie will cost you more than you can imagine.

 

Tell the truth.  Find the people who have achieved your goals.  Ask the question. Take the action.  Over and over and over.   Realize you are fighting for your childhood dreams, and that NOTHING is more important.

 

Never quit.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

www.lifewrite.com

Five Minute Life Hacks: Goal setting SUCKS (unless you do THIS first…)

Every time I write a book, and I mean EVERY time, I reach a point about half way in when it all looks like its falling apart.   The idea now sounds stupid, the characters aren’t working, the prose blows chunks,  the images and impressions make no sense.   In Lifewriting terms, this is the “Dark Night of the Soul” of the process.  I have lost all perspective on WHY I want to do it.  And for years, I would talk to Nicki’s mom Toni, and say the following: “Sweetie…do I always reach a point where every project feels like it’s turning into puree of bat shit?”

 

And she would laugh, and answer “Yes, babe.  Every single time.”  And because I have faith that she wouldn’t lie to me, faith that my own memory that she is right means that I WILL get on the other side, I remember WHY I wanted to write that AMAZING idea, and keep slogging forward another step, and another step, taking pleasure in knowing I’m keeping my word, doing what I said, being who I am committed to be…until one day I look up and OH MY GOD…IT’S A BOOK!!

 

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A friend who works at a major technology firm manages hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.  It is hard, sometimes exhausting, but she is committed to being the best she can be, rising up through the ranks, and mentoring those around her.    Recently she noticed that her team members seemed to be running out of gas. They snapped at each other, dragged their feet, couldn’t engage in brain storming sessions, and in general seemed to have lost the “oomph” they had when she hired them

 

She was mystified, before she asked herself why SHE rarely ran out of gas, and wondered if the process she went through daily might have an answer. She asked her team members “what are your goals?”  and was surprised to learn that…they didn’t really have them. They were simply doing their work, looking forward to their paychecks.   Their goal wasn’t to make a safer America. Or colonize space. Or even “play with the cool toys.”  Let alone change the world.  Those were HER goals.

 

Theirs were “get my damned check.”   That’s how the joy drains out of life, one day at a time.

 

So she taught them the processes I’m about to teach you (today, and in subsequent days) and according to her records they DOUBLED their efficiency, transforming the department.

 

I mean, heck…you might not even LIVE to see the end of a long project.   You need to enjoy EVERY day, and RIGHT NOW!

 

They had fallen prey to a common human disease called”not seeing the forest for the trees.”  Getting so caught up in the chopping down of trees that you are so caught up in the fatigue, the disappointment, the monotony of the effort that you forget that the PURPOSE is to keep your family warm.    So busy re-writing and polishing a stubborn line or researching an obscure fact that you forget the PURPOSE is to bring a vibrant world to life, filled with wonderful characters doing amazing things to thrill an audience.  So busy fighting with your kids to do their homework that you forget that the PURPOSE is to deliver them safely, strongly and happily  to their adulthood, so that you can gloat as they get pissed off struggling with THEIR kids.

Heh heh.

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The most important piece of the Five Minute Life Hacks system is that you actually DO it.  Five minutes.   So far we’ve looked at:

  1. The “Five Minute Miracle”, which is belly-breathing for 60 seconds  every three hour, gives you a way to keep stress from becoming strain, opening the door to managing higher and higher levels of life stress without crumbling.  Remember: in life, they pay you for how much stress you can take without breaking.  DO NOT NEGLECT THIS PIECE.  IT IS NOT CONCEPTUAL, OR EMOTIONAL. “UNDERSTANDING IT WILL NOT  GET THE EFFECT ANY MORE THAN “UNDERSTANDING” A SANDWICH NOURISHES YOUR BODY.
  2. The “Five Minute Achievement Check” for children implants a very specific set of structured problem-solving tools into your relationship with your children.  If you’re aware, you’ll understand that strengthening the CONNECTION between child and parent is as important as any other part of the process.  You can also glimpse the power of the “Ancient Child” exercise, or the “Morning Ritual” for adults, both of which are deep parts of the 101.  It is like opening a vein between yourself and your child, so that communication is flowing on all levels simultaneously. Add love, and you have something amazing.
  3. Once you have this loving but strict connection wired up, the next question is: what is it that you are going to communicate to your kid? Now that you have his attention?

 

The thing to remember is that   what you ARE communicates more powerfully than what you KNOW.  In other words, the best you can hope for is that your child will walk your path. Asking them to do better is hoping for a small miracle.   Children ARE miracles, of course…but it may be best not to take that for granted.

Be the change you want to see.

(Gee.  Think maybe this also applies to other aspects of life?  Let me think…)

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So the next “Five Minute Life Hack” has to do with learning to accomplish more of ANYTHING you want, with more fun and “juice” in the process.  And here, we’ll tap into Tony Robbins’ “Rapid Planning Method” system.  It asks you NOT to create a “To Do” list for what you have to do today.  Not just shuffle through an endless slough of despair, doing trivial things for other people’s reasons, until all the joy that brought you to the job originally is…gone.

 

The point is that you don’t really care about a “To Do” list, all of the “Stuff” you need to do to get through the day.  You care about the RESULTS or OUTCOMES you believe you’ll get from doing them.  In other words, you don’t care about buying a vacuum cleaner, moving furniture and spending an hour cleaning…you care about having a sparkling house, healthy children and a successful party and/or happy spouse.

 

What happens (for instance) if you realize that you could spend that time more efficiently and effectively working on a paying project, and HIRING someone to clean your house?  If so, then you are fulfilling your OUTCOME more efficiently, even without the actions you THOUGHT you had to take.

 

 

Or if you think you have to spend FIVE HOURS every week exercising, driving to the gym, shopping for exercise clothes and so forth…when the same level of fitness can be created by ONE HOUR of very carefully chosen exercises at home?  If the outcome is “fitness” then the rest were just means to an end, yes?

 

But even deeper, how do you MOTIVATE yourself to take an action, day after day after day?  You can accomplish almost anything you can make yourself do continuously, regularly, day after day, for 1-3 years.  Why is it so hard to do that, then?

I don’t believe in “talent”.  I believe that the world belongs to people who can focus over time.

Look back over your life.  At the things you are best at.  Didn’t every one of them require that you focus over time?  Didn’t you see “talented” people who couldn’t focus or commit crashing and burning all around you?

Lots of reasons, and we’ll go into them later, but the word “motivation” is easy to understand.  Or to put it another way: WHY.  Your REASONS to do it.   If you have enough REASONS to do something, you can make yourself do almost anything.

 

So RPM is Robbin’s mental syntax for developing the MOTIVATION to accomplish the desired OUTCOME, not just tick off a “to do” list. “RPM” stands for “Rapid planning, Purpose-driven,  Massive action” system.

 

It is fast, fun, and super effective.  This can be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or 5-year basis.  In fact, if you REALLY want to increase efficiency, you will go far beyond the “Five Minute” level, and spend a day, just one precious day, mapping out your “RPM” in each of these time frames, making sure you have goals in all four basic arenas: Body, Career, Relationships, Finances.  Don’t neglect one, because trust me: if you try to improve your life, the pressure will explode out of your weak link, like steam gushing out of a weak spot in a pipe once you increase pressure.

 

Here’s the process:

 

  1. Swiftly  list the OUTCOMES you want.  For instance, let’s say I wanted to WRITE A BOOK.  That’s the outcome, o.k?
  2. Now list or remember the REASONS you want this outcome.   Satisfaction, creative expression, financial freedom, fulfilling a promise, whatever. The point here is that you want to FEEL the reasons, especially the POSITIVE reasons, you want to do something.  If you have one major goal in each of the four areas, it may take some time before you can re-connect with WHY you originally wanted to do them.  IF YOU HAVE MORE POWERFUL REASONS TO DO SOMETHING THAN NOT TO DO IT, YOU WILL DO IT.  IF YOU AREN’T DOING SOMETHING, IT IS BECAUSE YOUR “DON’TS” OUTWEIGH YOUR “DO’S”.   Simple. If there is more pain associated with doing something than pleasure, YOU WON’T DO IT.  If there is more pleasure associated with something than pain, YOU WILL DO IT.   Simple as that.  ALL you have to do is get clear on WHY you want it, and you’ll start moving in that direction.  If you aren’t moving…you don’t have enough reasons yet.
  3. NOW AND ONLY NOW ask yourself what you have to do TODAY, or THIS WEEK to get your outcome. NOW you think about the “whats”. The “To do’s” of your life.  Working BACKWARDS from “what do I want to ultimately accomplish” and “why do I want to do it” the “To Do” list will suddenly take on far more meaning.   You’ll be driving your actions with EMOTION. “A sentence a day” is my absolute minimum. The optimal is about 1000 words a day.

 

 

The OUTCOME needs to be clear (“Sailing around the world!”). The EMOTIONAL “WHY” needs to be strong (“Romance and Adventure!”). Then the “to dos” are the nuts and bolts (“building   the damned boat…”) or (“working at this job to earn the money to buy the boat so that I can sail around the world…”)

 

There is NO task devoid of meaning unless you abdicate your responsibility to GIVE it meaning.   This process, rapidly going through your four major arenas, your OUTCOMES, your REASONS and then “WHAT am I doing today to create this outcome?” Can take just a few seconds each. The longest part is FEELING THE EMOTIONS. To do this, you have to slow down a little, luxuriate, wash yourself in the emotions.

 

Visualize the results, hear the praise, feel the sensory impact of tropic winds on your face, sun on your skin. The hugs of your loved ones, the deep sense of satisfaction from fitting in those new pants.  FEEL IT.   There will inevitably be discomfort as you discipline yourself to accomplish your daily tasks.

 

LEARNING TO TO THIS IS NOT ONLY CRITICAL TO YOU, IT WILL BE CRITICAL TO TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN TO DISCIPLINE THEMSELVES.  Being able to visualize or emotionalize the better grades, the rewarding trip to Disney World, the graduation ceremony, the successful recital and roar of the crowd, the black belt tied around your waist by a proud sensei, the hand raised in victory…

 

If you can’t FEEL it, you won’t DO it.

 

WHAT is your outcome?

WHY do you want it?

HOW to you take steps today, this week, this month?

 

Can you see how easy this is?  How valuable it will be?

 

Go through this process rapidly during your “morning ritual”, or even better, your “weekly ritual” as you plan your next seven days…and you will start giving meaning to your life you may not have felt in years.

 

Five Minutes.

 

Get to work!

 

Be the hero in the adventure  of your lifetime!

 

Steve

 

STARTING TODAY you can sign up for the FREE Five/Seven program (Five Minutes a day, Seven Days) at: www.fiveminutelifehacks.com.

 

 

P.P.S.  By the way: want to see the results of focusing on what YOU can do for yourself, rather than trying to change the world, or waiting for the world to change?  Here’s a note I got today from Daniel R., who has spent YEARS with therapists trying to understand his pain in a relationship with a woman who constantly reminds him of her past lovers.   Daniel was DESTROYING himself worrying about this. I gave him one instruction: STOP TALKING ABOUT HER.  Focus on the things he can change: his own behavior, his relationship to finances. Every time he mentioned “her” we set the clock back to zero.  It only took him about a week to “get the right focus” and a month later he said:

 

“For the first time in my whole life I at least believe a LITTLE BIT in becoming successfull financially and sexually… It was like unachievable deep down….There is not much to heal though… It is more keeping focus… on my dream!!!!! (instead of shit and/or past or other peoples lives and/or (perceived) faults… Let`s go!”

 

That’s it!  That’s the power of the 101 LIFE HACKS SYSTEM.   You figure out what you want  (to be happy) and the externals that will create the space for that happiness, and THEN take daily steps to get there.

 

I believe in you.

Remember: your five minute/seven day program is totally FREE!

www.fiveminutelifehacks.com.

Climbing out of the Dark Night, five minutes at a time

(Note: There has been a massive “Yes!” response to my question: shall I refine and present the “Five Minute Life Hacks” concept?   Almost ten years ago I created the 101 Program, and mostly gave it away to hundreds of people, who then shared their experiences. Now I’m revising it into an integrated program. My daily notes will address this, adding to the material already there. The first week’s material is already in place, to be offered FREE very soon.)

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When Tananarive needed to move the family to Atlanta, I agonized, but didn’t hesitate. The life plan I’d developed from childhood had been shattered, but I knew that the most important thing to me, by far, was my family.  They needed me.  That was more important than my pain. And that love savedme.

 

LOVE was a reality higher and deeper than everything else combined, so I went.But I was swimming in fear, anger, resentment…knocked totally off balance, without a clear vision of how I’d accomplish anything. Anything at all.

 

My writing career felt in tatters after almost 20 years of side-trips (Ten years in the NW, a 6-year period back in L.A. struggling to put the Hollywood stuff back together, and just when I finally was getting work, and scored an agent…Atlanta).  All felt lost.

 

I kept up as brave a front as I could, but nothing was working.  My contacts faded, opportunities died, I felt as if I had no friends to connect to, there was real pain in my marriage, and that dream of conquering Hollywood, of building my career to something stable and wonderful just…died.

 

I remember the day I was curled up on the floor in fetal position, crying, unable to see how I was even going to survive. My ego was shattered.

 

But I knew something: this seemed to happen to me about every seven years.  The entire structure of my life, which had once protected me, became a prison, and when the walls started to crack it felt like death.  Hadn’t Swift Deer warned me about those seven year cycles..?

 

Clinging desperately to the possibility that this was the beginning of something GOOD, that on the other side of this agony was something worth the pain, I began to look at it all in terms of the Hero’s Journey.

 

This was the Dark Night of the Soul, step “Seven” of the path.  I knew this place.  I’d been in this place. And I knew the way through this place.

 

GIVE UP HOPE THAT I’M SMART ENOUGH TO “FIGURE IT OUT.” Give up the utter egotism of believing that if I can’t see the answer there IS no answer.

 

Find faith.  In myself (“I’ve been here before”), in my companions (“My teachers had faith in me. My family needs me.  Tananarive is a good and righteous woman who loves me.”) and in the Divine (“God would not give me a dream I can hold continuously in my heart unless there is a way to accomplish it.)

 

Faith.   I HAVE NEVER BEEN FAILED BY ALL THREE.  Never.  So long as I took continuous action, one step at a time, I had always found my way through the fog.   How long did it take..?

 

Well, it took me seventeen years to earn my first black belt, so much pain and fear was I working through.  That’s a LOT of faith.   THAT’S how strong I am, dammit.

 

You can kill me, but you cannot stop me.

 

All right…but how did I make it real?  What do I DO?

 

##

 

The “M.A.G.I.C.” formula came out of this abject desperation.   I searched and searched for an answer, finally looking into that popular piece of fluff-philosophy “The Secret”.  Yeah, right: if you want something enough, think about it enough, it will come to you.

 

You can sit on the couch “wanting” a bucket of chicken but you’ll starve waiting for it unless you at least pick up the damned phone.

Book irritated the hell out of me.

 

But…there was a speck of truth in there.   I’d sensed it and experienced it, but couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how it worked.    Somehow, sometimes, things DID just happen. Coincidence?  NO.   I sensed a pattern, but I couldn’t quite grip it.  There was something there.

 

And in my desperation, I sought out the book “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D. Wattles, said to be one of the sources of ‘The Secret” and read it….

 

It was only about 80 pages long, and I read it in an hour.  And then I read it again.  And again.

 

And…I was stunned.

 

I COULDN’T REMEMBER A WORD OF IT.

 

The contents just…disappeared into some black hole in my brain, and I was TERRIFIED. What the hell was going on?

 

Then I remembered something that had happened to me back when I went through the “est” training. You know, the two weekends where they don’t let you go to the bathroom?  Yeah, that one, back in the 1970s.

 

So…it’s about midnight,  and I’m packed in a hotel ballroom with hundreds of exhausted people. The trainer, irritatingly chipper and alert, brings up a topic: “Money.”  And I watched a whole chunk of the room fall asleep.  Don’t blame ’em, I thought.

 

Then at about 1am, he changed the subject: “Sex”. And a whole chunk of the audience woke up…and another chunk went to sleep.  I could see it, like a wave washing through the group.  And I was suddenly wide awake in a new way. I wasn’t listening to the conversation.  I was watching the audience. And something hit me. A question: “what if the people `dropping out’ were people who were uncomfortable with that subject?  What if we avoid, delete, the information we aren’t ready for?”

 

WHAT IF THERE WAS SOMETHING IN WATTLE’S BOOK I WASN’T READY TO HEAR?

 

If that was true…then I wouldn’t let myself absorb the information, especially if it conflicted with some core belief I was clinging to.

 

I HAD to understand what was in that book.  So…I used a technique I learned from Miss Nowacki, my high school biology teacher.  Read a page, and synopsize it.   Do that through the entire selection.  Then…synopsize the synopsizes.  And synopsize that. And that.  Until you boil it down to its minimum structured meaning.

 

Somewhere along the way, you’ll drill the meaning into your head.

 

So I did that.  It took me a couple of days, but I finally had it boiled down to just five words.    After experimenting with those five words for a few years, my dear friend and Tai Chi assistant instructor KinShan suggested that I phrase them as follows:

 

M.A.G.I.C.

 

Magic = Action X Gratitude X Intention X Conviction.

 

And when I looked at this, and my intuition told me that I had indeed extracted the meaning from this little book that had inspired so many millions, I understood two things:

 

  1. Why I hadn’t been able to absorb and understand that book.
  2. Where “The Secret” had gone wrong.

 

Do you see it?   If not, let me ask you a question: what was the significance of this being a multiplicative as opposed to an additive equation?

 

Think about it before you move forward.  See it?   If not, I’ll give you a hint:

 

Give each term (Action, Gratitude, Intention, Conviction) a numerical value from 0-9, representing your level of each.

Get it yet?

###

###

###

All right, here it is: YOU CAN’T MULTIPLY BY ZERO.   MULTIPLYING BY ZERO MAKES THE ENTIRE EQUATION ZERO.

Take no action?  Zero.

Feel no gratitude for your life?  Zero.

Have no Faith you CAN and SHOULD do it, that the efforts will bring you more pleasure than pain..?

Zero.

Holy crap.  If I was right, then “The Secret” blew it because it was cool on intention, positive vibes and focus…but had no emphasis on ACTION.

 

And how had I blown it?    BECAUSE THE IMPLICATION WAS THAT IF I COULDN’T BE GRATEFUL FOR WHERE I WAS IN LIFE, I COULDN’T MOVE ON.

 

In other words, by the most perverse twist imaginable, if I wanted to get OUT of Atlanta (after our obligations there were fulfilled) I had to be GRATEFUL TO BE THERE.

 

No.   NOOOOOOO!  It couldn’t be. And yet…and yet…

 

What the hell did I have to lose except my self-righteousness and anger?   So I decided to try it. And the first step was “Action.” What action could I take, every day, that would lead me one step at a time to my destination?

 

I remembered my plan to “write a story a week, or every other week.”  And even though I hadn’t formalized that, I was writing a minimum of about a page a day.  And knew that writing ANYTHING every day was keeping a tiny vent open in my mind, connecting conscious and unconscious minds in a way that kept me on track no matter what.  That is the origin of the “One Sentence A Day” notion.

 

What was the minimum, the absolute minimum, action I could take on a daily basis?

 

THAT question led to the discovery of The Daily Ritual.

 

What was the minimum? there were dozens of different books, articles, websites and such talking about “Daily Rituals” of body, mind, spirit, or emotions.   People said “10-20 minutes” but over time I realized that just five minutes made a massive difference IF YOU ACTUALLY DID IT.  Five minutes done regularly was better than an hour you did once a month.   That if I got smart, I could fold so many things into that five minutes that I couldn’t say, even on my worst days, that I wasn’t making progress.

 

I believe it was Earl Nightengale who said that “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.”

 

All right.  I could do five minutes.  On my most depressed and desperate days I could do five minutes.  The Tony Robbins version of the “Daily Ritual” was:

 

  1. Move your body dynamically and positively
  2. Focus your mind on your long and short-term goals
  3. Use Affirmations to SPEAK ALOUD your positive commitment, gratitude, and goals AS IF the future goals are as “real” as past accomplishments.

 

I chose Tai Chi for my movement.   I clarified my goals, and remembered all I had to feel grateful for.

 

And was certain that Action, Gratitude, Intention, and Conviction (Faith) were all part of the process.  EVERY DAY, at least six days a week, for at least five minutes. Usually ten.

 

I simply committed to doing it.    No matter what.

 

And…it saved my marriage, my career, and my life.  So long as I did Morning Ritual,  I impacted the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day.  It was amazing:

 

  1. I got more done
  2. I had more fun doing it, because I saw how today’s actions, no matter how small, fit into my lifetime goals
  3. I was working on my Tai Chi, which deepened my body-mind connection beautifully
  4. When I integrated the “Five minute miracle” breathing patterns (sixty seconds of diaphragmatic breathing every three hours) it referenced back to the Tai Chi, so that they reinforced each other.
  5. By associating with past positive emotions, I put the lie to the voices in my head saying “all is lost” because I knew something: I COULD FEEL GOOD ANYTIME I WANTED.  If I “felt bad”?  I was being self-indulgent. I was being a needy, wounded, abandoned Child (as Swift Deer used to say)  rather than a warrior.
  6. I was answering the question: Who Am I?  What is True?  What was true was that I could feel good WHENEVER I WANTED TO. Who I was was someone committed to being happy, and healthy, and a good father to my son and a good husband to the wonderful woman who trusted that I understood her desperate, honorable need to hospice her mother.  THAT man.   Not the man-baby curled on the ground.   An adult of the species, dammit.  If you’re having sex, you’d better be a ##$%% adult.  That’s my rule.
  7. And I could be that man, if I could beg, borrow, or steal five minutes a day.
  8. How long would it take? I said I’d do this, daily, for three months.  Three months where I committed to spending five minutes a day.
  9. And it worked, dammit.  It just flat WORKED.
  10. So that’s what I’m asking for you.  A minimum of five minutes a day for 101 days.  As much more time as you can. But five minutes.  101 Days.   I say that your life is worth it.

 

What do you say?

 

 

Namaste

Steve

 

Should I go Forward? Part Deux

So…earlier/yesterday I laid down the foundation for believing I have a breakthrough in my lifetime’s work.  It is the fact that marketing genius Eugene M. Schwartz’s HOW TO DOUBLE YOUR CHILD’S GRADES IN SCHOOL seems to be making a phenomenal difference in Jason’s life in only five minutes a day.  No bullshit.

(in a spirit of total disclosure, his basic program is that you spend five minutes every day, in a totally positive frame of mind, focusing all that positivity and love on your child while doing the following, in the following order:

  1. “Examine the work he or she is going to turn in the next morning. See that handwritten work is neat and has no misspellings.”
  2. “See that work done on a word processor has been spell-checked and proofread.”
  3. Question what is not clear to you, and have your child explain it to you until you are sure he or she understands it.
  4. “Hear memory work.”
  5. Check Mathematics work for obvious errors
  6. Check the assignment book to be sure the student has completed all work
  7. Now check the work received back from teachers.  If it has errors on it, turn the paper over and ask your child to rework the problems on its back until he or she gets the correct answers. Every error must be redone correctly the same day it is handed back.

 

As I’ve mentioned, the changes in three weeks have been amazing. Should I wait another 80 days before I speak?  Would that be more responsible?

Or should I trust that you can judge for yourselves, and move forward.  I’m choosing the latter.

##

My realization that the core of my Lifewriting teaching, the most basic applications, are the “Ancient Child” and the “Five Minute Miracle”.   Coincidence?  Synchronicity?     What if, I whispered to myself this morning, I assumed that I now had everything I need to accomplish my most important lifetime goal:

 

Creating ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT human beings

 

What if it was even possible..?

 

Oh my God, did the “pretender voices” in my head ever try to tell me to shut up.

 

But…here I go.

 

###

 

Today is a stunningly important day. For thirty years I’ve been testing LIFEWRITING.   This is the notion that the Hero’s Journey and the Chakras contain all the information you need to evolve and succeed as a balanced, awake, aware, happy human being.  Thousands of students later, I’m more convinced than ever that this is a valid approach.

 

But the HJ was both a technique, a perspective, and a means of organizing other technologies.   A SYNTAX.  You could take ANY success principles you loved, and organize them on this pattern to achieve ANY definable goal with greater efficiency and effectiveness.  The first “Lifewriting” workshops I clustered techniques about increasing energy, finding aliveness and creativity, focus, healing, and love.

 

Dear God, I’d traveled a lot of roads and collected that stack of stuff. Useful stuff.  Stuff that helped me find the love of my life, build a successful writing career, and earn three black belts.   Master fear and focus. Create an unshakably powerful positive attitude toward life, what the late Saint Ed Bryant called “Obnoxiously Exuberant”.

I can own that.

##

How could I winnow the thousands of ideas learned from the best, strongest, most successful and interesting, evolved and creative human beings it has been my honor to meet?  From Ray Bradbury  and Elon Musk to Sijo Steve Muhammad and Sri Chinmoy?

Back in 2008 I did this with the best  101 notions, and that was the 101 PROGRAM.  101 Days to personal excellence was the goal.

 

I gave it away FREE to hundreds of people, then sat back and watched. What did they use? How did they use it?  What did they ignore?  What worked? What failed?

 

About nine years ago, Scott Sonnon’s “Flow State Performance Spiral” combined with Pavel Tsatsouline’s “Grease the Groove” to suggest that just a “Five Minute Miracle” could evolve your body/minds reactions to stress.  Dr. Steven Sideroff was so impressed by the concept that he invited me to practice these techniques at the ultra high-end Moonview stress clinic, where for years I was paid absurdly well to help wealthy, powerful, no b.s. ultra-high performers who had access to the best of the best coaches and doctors.   And…on the sly, the man who scheduled the sessions told me that the clients preferred me to any other expert at the clinic.  Most of whom had Doctorates or formal degrees in psychology, psychiatry, stress physiology, or more.

That little old Life-Hacker, me.

What in the hell was I doing, he asked..? Hell, all I did was walk in, teach them to breathe, and share an hour or two of honest time with them. Moving, laughing, talking, having fun, sometimes crying together.  Just honest time, being healthy animals together.

I wish I could spend an hour like that with each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of people I want to help.  I can’t.  What the hell CAN I do..?

##

About six years ago I finally nailed down a useful definition of “Mastery”.

 

Five years ago the concept of Spiritual Autolysis by “Jed Mckenna” simplified a library of books on spiritual evolution until the core could fit onto a post card.

 

Four years ago, a comment from the Dalai Lama in a printed interview opened my eyes. To a simple, workable Meaning of Life.

 

For the last three years, the Ancient Child and Daily Ritual emerged as the most basic steps.

 

And for the last year, been looking at what can be accomplished in just five minutes. The recent breakthrough with Jason convinces me that the RIGHT five minutes can transform a child…and that means you can transform an adult as well.

 

This morning I realized that this just might be,  for all practical purposes, the point where my entire life’s work just came together.

 

How simple can it get? What is the seed? What is the MINIMUM I can offer?   It has seemed like an impossible task, but it’s what I’ve been doing for my entire life.  I’m now 65.  Not going to be 64 next year.  If I’m ever going to put it all together…this is the time.

 

I woke up this morning, and Little Stevie told me I was ready.

 

 

  • The Goal:   One million awake, aware, adult human beings
  • The Method: a 101 day/Five minutes a day program
  • Time investment:  One week (sample) 90- days  to One Year (core program)
  • Venue: Internet: email, web-based.  Home study, on their own schedule.  Add a web-based mastermind if possible, and a social media group.
  • Intent: physical, mental, emotional mastery for adults and their children.

 

 

Is this possible?  Depends on definitions.  If the greatest masters of life I’ve ever known seem to agree on the following statement (primary synthesis: Steve Muhammad and George Leonard):

 

Mastery is a verb, not a noun. A vector, not a position.  Once you have the basics committed to unconscious competence, and have committed to a daily path for a lifetime, you are on the Path of Mastery as much as anyone else on that path, even those horizons ahead.”

 

Then the question of

  1. Commitment for 5 minutes for 7 days, mastering some small piece of the puzzle to convince your inner and outer selves that the method works.  OFFER THIS PIECE FREE, TO ANYONE, AS A WAY OF SAYING “THANK YOU” TO THE UNIVERSE.

 

Then for those who wish more guidance:

 

  1. Commitment to balance
  2. Daily practice of at least five minutes for at least 101 Days
  3. Develop the intuition to self-guide from that point onward.

 

Does that make sense? Who is this going to be for?  There is only one answer that can be made with 100% integrity:

 

My Avatar, my perfect student, is ME, from childhood onward.   THAT guy. That kid who once stood crying in the street knowing he’d rather die than let others define him, beat him, break him, even if he saw no way to accomplish his dreams.

That means it has to be PERFECT for people who want  mastery in:

 

Martial Arts

Writing

Relationships

 

In other words, anyone who  wants to be a black belt married to his/her soulmate and enjoy a successful writing career.  Does that make sense? PERFECT for him.

 

But it also had to be  EXCELLENT AND INVALUABLE for a woman who wants those things.  Or  anyone who wants any one  of them.

And if it is, it would also be WONDERFUL for anyone who wants one or all of:

Body: Health and fitness

Mind: How to make a living doing something that gives you pleasure.  How to help yourself or a loved one  succeed in just 5 minutes a day

Spirit: How to be at peace within yourself, love yourself, love others.  Be HAPPY.

 

The rest is just specific application.

 

Five Minutes.   101 Days.  The path to mastery.

 

I have my own “pretender voices” screaming at me.  How DARE I think I can do this? Who the hell do I think I am?

 

And yet…

 

If not me, who?

If not now, when?

And why should I indulge the weakest, palest, most frightened and angry voices in my head?

 

How about I  let YOU guys be the judge, tell ME if this is of value, and not let either the positive or negative ego voices twist my tail?  What about that?

 

I tell you what…if YOU guys tell me that what I’ve been doing is worth while…that this sounds like coolness…that  you would like me to move forward, and clearly deleniate this path, to stop dancing around it and go right to the heart…I will.  But if you don’t think I’ve been saying anything of value over the last years…I won’t.  Honestly.  It’s up to you.

 

Would this be a good thing?

 

FIRST LAW:   The most basic information will be given FREE.  Say, a “Seven Day” Jumpstart” program.  Totally free.   Covering, say, the Daily Ritual applied to adults and children.  Body, Mind, Spirit.

 

Does that sound fair?  Would you be interested?

 

 

Namaste

Steve

The Vegas Shooting: a loose thread in the Gordian Knot

 

I awakened almost a year ago with insight about a solution to the race problem, a five-step solution I’ve discussed many times since then:

  1. Love yourself
  2. Love one other person (leading to  the notion of “Num”, that there is one soul looking out through many eyes)
  3. Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame
  4. Support your tribe.  Don’t engage with sleepers or snakes. Be strong enough to fight monsters.
  5. Win with integrity and compassion.

 

I’ve also discussed The Hero’s Journey,  Musashi (especially “Do not think dishonestly”), Sun Tzu, and the notion that anger is fear…and where these ideas go.   I’ve explored these, expanded them, given endless examples. And applied them to other arenas like gender, sexual orientation, and politics.  But I’ve never tried to apply them to the gun issue. Because, frankly, I’m pretty ignorant about the subject.   Had to wait for an inspiration. And this morning I awakened with one.

###

 

 

For the men of Wu and the men of Yueh are enemies; yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each other’s assistance just as the left hand helps the right.“–Sun Tzu, “The Nine Situations” chapter 11

##

 

What is more important?  For you to win, or for your opponent to lose?    I hope you realize that if you focus on your opponent “losing” you can lose too, like the scorpion that stings the frog.

Focus on winning.  And if possible, if at ALL possible, help your opponent to win as well.  But the trick is: each of you may need to shift your definition of “winning”, go deeper than the surface issues, to do so.

##

On a basic level, you can start with the assumption of equality.     I fight for it, whether the subject is race, gender, or politics.  I will slowly, gradually, at great cost, be hauled away from that position.  Get attacked from both sides, which is fine by me.

I see many who start from the assumption of INEQUALITY. They too can be moved away from that position…but painfully, gradually, at great cost…and they snap back to those earlier assumptions first chance they get.  And yes, oppressed peoples (or those who consider themselves oppressed) are just as likely to consider themselves superior as oppressors, make no mistake.  Black people about white people, women about men, gay about straight, atheists about the religious.

It’s human stuff. Miss this, get politicized, and you might not notice when your allies slowly turn on you, until they manipulate you into a “heads I win tails you lose” situation, using fear or guilt to disarm and control.  Its fascinating to watch, really.

What’s even more fun is when they think I don’t notice.

To focus on the common ground is a tactic of phenomenal import, EXPECIALLY if you are deadlocked.  If one side is stronger than the other, there is the potential to simply strike and crush.    But if not?  Time to think differently.  Maybe not judo, which, while gentle, is still about “I win, you lose.”  Maybe Aikido, which asks us to find common ground.  We can both win.  If I must hurt you, we both lose.

You lose with broken bones of course.  Ahem.  But my spirit has been damaged because Num.

##

 

The Las Vegas shooting is a perfect example of a situation of common peril.  A stormy sea which endangers both “armies”.  If they can step back from their hatred and fear and selfishness and tribalism, they can grasp the core of the problem, and find common ground.

There are a few things about the Gun Control debate that I think all sane people can admit if they will take a deep breath.  I don’t think any of these points require much more than assuming shared humanity, and a little logic. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll say “Right” as “second amendment advocates”, and “Left” as “gun control advocates” without any pejoratives attached to either. Can we do that?

(BTW:   sorry, but I’m not calling this man a “terrorist”.   I think there has been a corruption of language.  A terrorist in my mind isn’t someone who inspires terror or causes violence.  It is a person who USES violence to cause terror with the intent of manipulating the minds, emotions, and actions of a population thereby. You can also cause mass death as a saboteur: a simple urge to damage the infrastructure of your opponent.  OR: you might simply wish to create a tableau,  and have no real caring about how your victims FEEL  about it. The victims aren’t human. Have no “inwardness”  They are just material to paint your canvas.  Of course, you may also simply enjoy killing, for the sheer pleasure.  Many of these seem to have increased joy if their victims are afraid.  But without a political will to leverage that fear to create some larger effect…not “terrorism.”

Such people are more dangerous than “terrorists” by the way.  They have stepped away from their humanity.   Be very, very careful. They have embraced their monstrosity.

Yeah, I’ve heard that the CIA changed the definitions. But if you don’t think intelligence agencies manipulate language to control populations, you might want to pay closer attention.

Anyway, as Rod Serling used to say, “Submitted for your approval”:

 

  1. Both Left and Right believe their position enhances chances of survival. For different reasons, yes.  But they do. You don’t have to agree with them, but you’d better believe they aren’t just engaging in political theater.
  2. The event in Vegas is a nightmare to both sides.  The Left because it is a primary nightmare of a killing machine leveraging the power of modern firearms and efficient tactics to slaughter the innocent.
  3. The Right because the “a bad man with a gun can only be stopped by a good man with a gun” idea about armed citizens simply doesn’t work in this situation. He had high ground, a massed group that could be devastated by unaimed fire, and a distance that negated hand-guns. Bim, bam, boom.   Horror show.     If the crowd had been armed with automatic rifles it wouldn’t have helped much, let alone handguns. Imagine hundreds of terrified people “returning fire” against a hotel wall of hundreds of rooms.  The death toll would have doubled.   And let’s not forget an unfortunately politicized reality…the identification.  Its not unreasonable to think Country Western fans skew more Right.  And if you are Right, you are more likely to see yourself, your neighbors, your children there than some other sorts of concerts.  You know perfectly well what I mean, and don’t pretend you don’t.  When the affected group is like you, it is Harder to “other.”  YOU could have been in that group.  Easily.  Helpless.
  4.  This is, in other words, a nuclear event, where the “the answer is an armed population” doesn’t work IN THIS INSTANCE for anyone sane. But that doesn’t mean that a person who admits that is interested in “giving up their guns.”
  5. Don’t be dishonest and say “no one wants to take your guns.”  Bullshit.  “No one”?  Are you kidding? All you have to do is scan FB feeds, and you’ll see people who are in favor of total gun confiscation.   THAT is the truth. Now…”there is no major political movement to take all guns” is probably true.    THAT can be defended and discussed. For God’s sake don’t pretent that there isn’t a difference.  If you lie, you lose the right to expect your opponent to tell the truth.
  6. And here is where the opening is.   Those willing to speak the truth, on Left or Right, who are willing to see the common humanity (“we both want to live. We both love our children”) who are willing to look into their own hearts (“we are both angry, because we are both afraid”) have the chance to put down their rhetorical weapons and look at the shared reality:
  7. BOTH WANT TO STOP MASS MURDERS.    And the safeguards currently in place, whether seen as “gun regulation” or “gun availability” both failed. In THIS instance, it is not, I believe, unreasonable to say that more guns in the hands of “good guys”  wouldn’t have helped a damned bit.  But if you don’t grasp that the “opposite side”  is listening and reading your threads, just as YOU are reading their threads and listening to THEIR threads, and they KNOW what some of your people are thinking…then lying about it is not only dishonest, it destroys the slender thread of trust that can lead to the future we want.
  8. What do we all want?  Happiness.  To have that, we all need some combination of security and freedom.  We ALL want our children to grow up and live happy lives.    Imagine a world with far more happiness, say two generations from now.   It is the result of decisions and actions taken by our children.  We don’t need to know what they are, as long as it leads to that Happiness, that balance of security and freedom.    Take your mind, for just a moment, off the fixed picture you have of what that balance might be. Or the need to be so egotistical that if YOU can’t think of an answer, or an answer hasn’t been found in your lifetime, there IS no answer.  Multi-generational problems can require multi-generational solutions.     Let our children work that out, if that’s what it takes.
  1. What WE can do is stop lying. Stop acting as if the people on the other side are our enemies. Why?  BECAUSE IT HASN’T WORKED.   Simple.  It.  Hasn’t. Worked.  Because it was based on politics (“How can we win?”) as opposed to philosophy (“what is true?”)  Stray from the path of truth, just one foot, and you lose the right to complain that your efforts don’t work.   If you decide to run east, you give up your right to see a sunset.   The truth is that you DO have extremists on each side who exemplify what the other side fears the most.  IF you’re one of ’em, you may be a good person. You may even be “right.”  But if you lie about it, I submit that I do not trust you, or anyone who lies about the fact that you are there.    The truth is that both sides think their approach leads to greater safety.  The truth is that we have a clear example of ONE SITUATION in which the theories on the Right don’t work.  One situation. Try to generalize from that and you had better qualify your words, and be VERY careful not to make “universal” statements which are great politically (your “side” will love that) but lead right back into gridlock.  Want more gridlock?   Just keep that shit up.
  2. So here is the answer:
    1. TELL THE TRUTH.   There are extremists on each side.  Admit it.  People who would take all guns. People who think they have the right to own a Nuke.    Yes, there really are.
    2. FIND COMMON GROUND.  What are the things we all can agree on?  We all want to live, and for our children to live.  Each side is afraid of the other’s approach, each interprets the same document to support their own position. 
    3. GET OUT OF YOUR EGO.  Because YOU don’t see the answer doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer.  It means that we may be too time-bound, culture-bound, politic-bound, history-bound and ego-bound to see it. Or simply not smart enough.  No one person, time, or culture has all the answers.  If this is the “Dark Night of the Soul” then the way through is the “Leap of Faith.” ONLY those with faith in themselves, their fellow citizens or a larger, greater pattern will guide us through.  The rest will fall back in an endlessly repeated, exhausting, and defeating “Road of Trials.”
    4. START WITH THE PIECE WE CAN SOLVE.  Find the loose thread in the Gordion Knot. Unravel as much as we can see, and trust tomorrow, and the next generation if necessary. That loose thread is: we are both afraid, we have common interests.
  3. NOW APPLY THE FIVE STEPS:
    1. Love yourself enough to agree that you’d rather live and be happy than be “right” according to yesterday’s definitions.  Get out of your ego.
    2. Love another human being enough to imagine horror happening to your child, your spouse, your brothers and sisters.    Now ask if counting coup on your “opponents” is worth the blood of those you love.
    3. Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame.   Also, grasp the Long View.  Human beings have resolved countless apparently insoluable problems.  Sometimes, often, usually, not within a single human lifetime.   Get over yourself. Your miserable little lifespan ain’t all that important.  Don’t sacrifice the future because you want it to happen NOW, immediately, before you take the dirt nap.   Maybe it can happen fast…but if so, those who facilitate that will be the ones who can see beyond their @#$$ ego-need to be “right.”
    4. Support your tribe.  In THIS instance, your “Tribe” is people who want that healthier, happier future, and is willing to focus on the future (happiness, security, freedom) rather than some particular opinion about the tools and strategies that can get us there.  People willing to speak the truth:  “I am afraid.  I want to live, and for my children to live.”   “On both sides there are extremists.  Because I tilt more toward them doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and I won’t lie about it any longer.”   “I can admit that the other side has valid concerns” and “it is possible for intelligent people of good will to interpret a 200 year old document differently” and “we must find a way to live together, and build a world that works for our children.”  People willing to come from love, and see their own soul looking out from the eyes of those they disagree with.
    5. Win.  With integrity and compassion.  Winning is reaching that future of greater happiness, freedom, and security.  I feel safe in saying that NEITHER OF US IS SMART ENOUGH TO DESCRIBE THE FULL PATH TO THAT FUTURE. But I believe I’ve detected the first step.  Just the first.  And if you take one step, you’ll see a little more clearly. And ONLY those who can take that step will mark the path that enables someone stronger, smarter, more honest to take two more. So that someone else can take three steps further. Musashi’s Thousand Mile Road.
  1. This won’t happen fast, because I don’t believe many people can do as I suggest. But just for a moment, imagine a world in which people could do as I’m suggesting.  Don’t you think they could, brainstorming among millions, find an answer?   Do you really think this is the worst problem humanity has faced?  If so, you never took Step #3.
  2. And what are the immediate advanages?  A decrease in the net amount of fear and anger in our culture. Which diminishes the amount of cause-based violence, and increases communication.  Which leads to brainstorming, which leads to answers undreamed of.   The “Tribe” of people willing to communicate honestly gets to grow.   I think they will make good neighbors for each other, even if they disagree.

 

That’s my answer.  The first step.   Meet each other with love, and honesty. Don’t give each other reason to INCREASE their fear or shame or guilt or anger.  That causes them to shut down.  You may feel better, but you have accomplished NOTHING.  But man, have you ever been “virtue signaling” to your side of the aisle.  “Showed ’em good!!”  Yeah.  Real good.

 

Those who lie, or scream, or cannot see the common humanity CANNOT be part of the discussion.  Let them sleep, or slither away. The monsters are crouching in hotel rooms, grinning down on the crowd.

Namaste,

Steven Barnes

www.lifewritingpremium.com

My current workout program

My daily schedule has been pretty stable for a while, with occassional tweaks.  I thought I’d give a sample of my program, which prioritizes health over fitness.

 

(Note: I feel free to cut down or ramp up as I feel the urge)

  1. Sunday: OFF
  2. Monday, Tues, Wed: Tai Chi/Morning Ritual, Gymnastic Lever for 60 seconds (working toward. Trust me–when I first got my chin-up tower, just hanging for 60 seconds was a challenge), Martial arts (forms/techniques from Silat, Kali, WAR, and Kenpo), the “Legendary Abs” program (IMO the best abdominal program ever created) and Ashtanga yoga (as little as a single Sun Salutation, as much as 30-minutes).  Then later I can do 5 minutes of Turkish Get-ups, or 15 minutes of Kettlebell Intervals with Tananarive. Wicked workout.  Best fitness DVD I’ve ever seen in my life, called ‘The Busy Woman’s Workout” available at Tactical Fitness. Another sun salutation to cool down and align.
  3. Tuesday, Thurs, Sat: Tai Chi/Morning Ritual, Bikram Yoga series (1 rep.  As little as one compound motion, as much as 30 minutes)

At night I might do some joint mobility if I feel stiff.

 

That’s it.   I am hoping to re-integrate more martial arts in the near future, but I’ve got my basics pretty well covered: balance, strength, coordination, power, flexibility, alignment, joint health, maxing abdominals (IMO the most important muscles to work), cardio endurance, muscular endurance, skill, speed (not maxing that…), and more.   I’ve spent a lifetime collecting these pieces, and now I can often finish everything I need in under 30 minutes.   When I am interrupted by travel, coming back I might only do Tai Chi and one yoga pose, working my way back up day by day, and the total time might start at 15 minutes.

 

The most important thing is focus and regularity.

 

Any questions?

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

I love it when someone can show me I’m wrong

I am blessed to know some seriously brilliant people, who see the world from different perspectives.  They keep me honest.   Dr. John La Tourrette is one of them.  An amazing martial artist, and NLP master (as well as other high level skills) he said I was using stealth techniques to manipulate minds (he put it less aggressively than that).   I replied that I’m not trying to change minds, and listed my five steps:

  1. Love Yourself
  2. Love One other person
  3. Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame
  4. Nurture and protect your tribe: don’t disturb the sleepers.
  5. Win with ethics and compassion.

 

He analyzed these steps, and maintained that I was, indeed, dealing in change. And I think he makes his point stick.  Note:

 

###

 

John La Tourrette Actually I see/feel that all 5 of your points ARE ABOUT CHANGING MINDS.

 

You said:

1) Love yourself

[if they do not know how to self-love…to get there is a “change”]

 

2) Love one other person

[If they do not know how to love-self, they cannot love another. They can “lust” after something but the love-effect is totally different, in my opinion]

 

3) Understand human history without guilt, blame, or shame

[People have emotional anchors…period…and the stronger ones are the anger (which you did not say above) guilt, blame and shame. So to achieve that, there must be “change”.]

 

4) Find and nurture your tribe

[The tribe definition. See Eugene S. on this one. He did a great job. And, when you find your “tribe” attempting to “change” them will cause them to leave. I’ll think about this one. The “tribe” thing is alien-thinking to me.]

 

5) Win, with ethics and compassion

[I do like and appreciate this one…BUT, 98% of the world with NOT comprehend what you really mean. They believe that their “normal-drifting” and being “entitled” are the way life is meant to be.]

 

According to Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich (and an even better book, Outwitting the Devil, which was too controversial to be realized until 2011…though it also was written in 1937 as was Think & Grow Rich)

 

“98% of the world’s population is AIMLESSLY DRIFTING through life…

 

…with a lack of goals, stuck, scattered and not knowing how to be productive.

 

This is a SERIOUS problem because the ocean of life will NOT just take us somewhere wonderful unless we become captains of our souls, and navigators of our destiny.

 

There is even an expression ‘God helps those who help themselves’.

 

No matter how we look at it – we have to take responsibility for our lives, what we do and the results we get.

 

According to Napoleon Hill [1937], someone who is drifting will show the following signs…

 

Total lack of a major purpose in life

He/She will be conspicuous by their lack of self-confidence

She/He will never accomplish anything requiring thought and effort

He/She will expect everything of others, but be willing to give nothing in return

She/He may begin many things, but complete nothing

He/She will be loud in their condemnation of their government, but he will never tell you definitely how it could be improved

She/He will have little or no imagination

He/She will never reach decisions on anything if they can avoid it, and if they are forced to decide, they will reverse themselves at the first opportunity

She/He spends all they earn and more too if they can get credit

He/She will be sick or ailing from some real or imaginary cause and calling to the high heavens if they suffer the least physical pain

She/He will lack enthusiasm and initiative to begin anything they are not forced to undertake, and they will plainly express their weakness by taking the line of least resistance whenever they can do so

He/She will be ill-tempered and lacking in control over their emotions

Their personality will be without magnetism, and it will not attract others

She/He will have opinions on everything but accurate knowledge of nothing

He/She may be a jack of all trades, but good at none

She/He will neglect to cooperate with those around them…even on those they must depend on for food and shelter

He/She will make the same mistake over and over again never profiting by failure

She/He will be narrow-minded and intolerant on all subjects ready to crucify those who disagree with them

He/She will eat too much, and exercise too little

She/He will take a drink of liquor, if someone else will pay for it

He/She will gamble if they can do it on the cuff (meaning on credit)

She/He will criticize others who are succeeding at their chosen calling

The drifter will work harder to get out of thinking than most others work at making a good living

He/She will tell a lie rather than admit their ignorance on any subject

If they work for others they will criticize them to their backs, and flatter them to their faces

 

Drifting is the MAJOR hidden cause for all of your suffering, stress and dis-satisfaction with life.”

 

I love your posts Steven Barnes…they get me to “think in different & fun ways”.

 

Doc

###

 

Steve here again.  What you see above is high-level thinking. And…he is right.   I AM aiming at change.  I saw it as nurturing those who already agree with me, but the end result is creating awareness, which triggers discomfort if you are not in alignment with your deepest values.   It would be honest to say that I see “evil” as chaotic action that causes damage to others, especially children, then I see my “opponents” not as bad people essentially, but people acting from fear and survival, out of alignment with spirit.

 

I focus on helping those who are already awake, but also creating a safe, welcoming space for those who are awakening.  This might be like cooking bacon and eggs, getting the fireplace going, as a means of luring someone to awaken from a dream tinged with nightmare.    Yes, reality is harder-edged.  But there are people who love you here.  There is warmth, and company. There is work to do, yes, but we can build something wonderful together, in alignment with our deepest values.

 

Yes.   Doc is right.  I AM about changing people, as gently as I can…but that is the truth.  That’s what I’ve been about my whole life. That is what Lifewriting is about: seeing the entire pattern of life, and living every day in that awareness. That’s what the Premium program is about: being willing to live as the Hero of your own story.  There are short-term and long-term aspects. Short term: help those who ask to be helped.  Long Term: transform and heal the world.   Really, nothing less than that.

 

Thanks, Doc.  You’re a good man.  And you were correct.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

The Art of Winning

“How do I market?”

“I’m stuck”

“How do I find ideas?”

“What if I don’t have anything to say?”

“How do I get an agent?”

“Will people steal my ideas?”

“Should I pay to have my work edited?”

“When will I know my book is finished?”

“How do I rewrite?”

 

These are some of the most common questions I get asked about the writer’s path.  And the truth is that they are all valid things to ask.  Any art has thousands of moving parts. Any profession as well.

 

“Know the Ways of All Arts” and “Know the Ways of all professions” are two of Musashi’s key principles.

 

In other words:

 

  1. how do I create with grace and integrity, and educe my greatest level of skill?  How do I protect my heart, and find my voice?
  2. How do I bring my work to market?  How do I exchange MONEY for my time and energy and creativity?  How do I manage my time, create an office, stay on schedule?  Build a team to maximize my efforts?

 

Can you see how these are sort of the “Left Brain/Right Brain” of the issue? And you have to have both, and you have to be able to start without ANY outside assistance, and you have to be able to start with the absolute minimum investment of time, energy, and momentum.

 

NO ONE CAN PROMISE YOU SUCCESS, unless that success is totally under your control.

 

Consider the movie “Rocky.”  In it, club-fighter Rocky Balboa is given a freak-luck opportunity to fight the greatest boxer in the world.  He trains like a maniac, but ultimately knows that he cannot beat the champ.  Just…can’t.

 

His girlfriend asks him “what are we going to do?”  (Beautiful line–“we.”  Not “you.”  In other words, “we’re in this together.”    Note something: HE’S ALREADY WON THE GAME, because what he NEEDED was to love himself, live his life with integrity.   And in Adrianne, he found what he really needed. The rest…is just what he WANTED.  A lesser thing. But they are connected.

 

“To beat Apollo Creed” was out of Rocky’s control. But he says to Adrianne: “Nobody has ever gone fifteen rounds with Creed.  If I can do that…if I can be on my feet at the end of those rounds…for the first time in my life I’ll know I’m not just another bum from the neighborhood.”

 

This is genius.   And I believe that Stallone was cutting as close to the core of his heart, speaking his truth, as much as I’ve ever, ever, heard in a film.

 

He can’t control what the judges say. He can’t control how Creed reacts to his blows.  He can’t stop Creed from hitting him.

 

But what he can do is get up, stand up, stay up.  Over and over again.  THAT he can control.

 

What was it, thirty years later that Rocky Balboa tells his son “it ain’t how hard you hit, its how hard you can GET hit and keep movin’ forward”?

 

Don’t you think we are hearing the core philosophy of a man who became one of our very greatest action stars, across five decades?  A man who keeps getting up, and up, and re-inventing himself, and believing in himself, and crafting one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories?

 

Do you think someone can lie with their words and bodies for almost fifty years without becoming the thing they say they are?

 

No. There is something critical to grasp here.  YOU MUST DEFINE SUCCESS AS SOMETHING YOU CAN CONTROL.

 

But you must also CHOOSE that control point so that if you do it, you have maximized your chances for success.

 

THAT is what we set out to do with the Lifewriting program.

If you have the resources to read these words:

 

 

You can control whether or not you write a sentence a day.

You can control whether you finish 1-4 stories a month.

You can control whether you submit them.

You can control whether you research and read.

You can control whether you repeat this process 100X

 

 

And if you DO control those things, you will learn answers to 100% of the questions asked at the beginning of this.   You will learn who you are, and what is true about the industry.

 

I can teach you the SCIENCE of writing.  But the ART of writing is finding the way to connect the skills to your heart.  To place yourself at the center of the storm, and ride it out for as much of your life as you choose to invest there.

 

That’s the truth.   NO ONE CAN PROMISE YOU’LL BEAT THE CHAMP.  But what you CAN control more than anything else is how you react.  If you have the heart to be on your feet after 15 rounds, you’ll hear what I’m saying.  I’m talking to YOU.  I’m not talking to the person next to you who is looking for loopholes.

 

Nope, I don’t have the time.  Maybe you will, and good for you. But the Lifewriting program is designed for people willing to invest their time and energy and aliveness and emotions in ACTUALLY BEING A WRITER.   No games. No b.s.  No “magic” except the magic that happens when people decide to really give themselves a chance to succeed. To be healthy, happy, successful.

 

They are my tribe.

 

If you’re one of them…join me.

 

 

Write with Passion, Live with Purpose!

Steve

www.lifewritingpremium.com

Why Lifewriting?

Every morning for the last few years, we’ve been working with Jason to help him in school.  The problem is that we weren’t aware that there was an issue with his reading until he’d fallen behind, and  started feeling fear in association with his schoolwork. Fear that he can’t keep up. Fear that his cousins are smarter than he is.  Fear that I’ll be disappointed in him.

 

FEAR stops us more than anything else. When we love something, we will spend endless time focused on it, and THAT is what produces skill: focus over time, combined with proper coaching.

 

One day we were just sitting and watching a movie, and he was digging it.  I started thinking about all the things I want for him, wondering how I can help him.  And I thought “Lifewriting.”

 

Started talking to him about stories, and how all the movies he loved had similar patterns under the surface.

 

  1. A character wants something.
  2. Usually they are a little nervous about going after it.
  3. They finally decide…or are forced…to go for it.
  4. They try lots of different stuff, or go lots of different places, looking for answers.
  5. They learn new things and meet new people, some of whom have answers for them
  6. They hit a wall: everything they have tried until now stops working.
  7. They feel REALLY scared.  Looks like everything is falling apart!
  8. They tap into faith in something bigger than them: they gotta do it for their Mom, or village, or coach, or sometimes God.  SOMETHING.  Maybe they just start really believing in themselves.
  9. They try again, and win.
  10. They end up teaching other people what they learned.

 

 

Once he saw the pattern, I asked him how he learned to be a great Scooter Kid, doing tricks at the park.  Walked him through the same pattern.  He saw it, and it was really funny once he saw that his own life went through the same pattern.

 

And at another time, I pointed out the moment when he quit Judo–he lost FAITH in himself after being beaten publicly by a couple of really tough girls.   I empathize seriously. That stings.    The nascent male ego is a fragile thing.

 

And where other people he knows, or has seen in movies, backed off from their mission in life.  We got to talk about that, and I still point out these steps when he travels them in life, and sometimes when he sees them in a movie.   He’s kinda sick of hearing about it…but is starting to think that way himself.

 

The advantage?  BEFORE HE STARTS ANY SERIOUS NEW TASK, HE KNOWS THAT HE WILL HIT A POINT WHERE ALL SEEMS LOST.   That he will feel despair, depression, fear. And that the way through is Faith.   He will have to believe in SOMETHING bigger than the negative voices in his head.   Maybe he’ll trust me, or his Mom.  Or believe that if he can learn a complicated scooter trick, he can sure as hell learn to multiply two negative numbers.

 

That was what Steve Muhammad used to do with us in karate: “If you can learn this, you can learn anything: math, science, history.”  We’d sit there after a back-breaking workout, the windows fogged with our sweat, steam rising off our bodies, and he would talk to us as no one ever had, leading us on with his energy, inspiring us with his trust.  He BELIEVED in us.  And that became more important than the voices of doubt.

 

He was, and remains, one of the greatest allies in my life.  As I want to be for Jason.

 

The greatest gift I can give him is the understanding of how, as Jerry Pournelle once taught me, “if you master anything, you know how to master anything else.”  Why?  Because once you see the PATTERN you can apply it to anything.

 

##

 

It really is one of the secrets to life, and is PERFECT for writers, because writers have to learn SOME kind of plot/structure. There are many…but when you learn to apply this one, you have a way of leveraging all your writing skills to the rest of your life. And everything you do in the rest of your life deepens your writing. Perfect.

 

 

Write with Passion, live with purpose!

Steven Barnes

www.lifewritingpremium.com