Awakening

Faith has no limits…save your own heart

 

“In the spiritual life, movement has to be constant.  Either you move forward or you move backward.  If you try to remain motionless,  the ignorance of the world will pull you right back to your starting point.”-Sri Chinmoy

 

GOALS X FAITH X CONSTANT ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS

 

Yesterday, a student was delighted.   She had rejected the concept of “Faith” as a religious artifact.  Objected to the phrasing (“why can’t you say `confidence’ or something?”) because “faith” implied bowing to an old man on a throne, or something.

 

Well, that’s what’s in HER mind.  If she wants to change that to “confidence”, no one can stop her. Then she can tell be how that works for her, and I’ll pay attention.  Results, not reasoning.   Reasoning is symbolic. Results are real.   If she can’t roll with a word that means several things (including but not limited to the metaphysical or religious) HER mind is frozen in a particular position. She is in reaction to something: cultural?  Familial?  Someone rammed “God” down her throat when she was younger?  Secular humanist? Militant Atheist?  Simple Agnostic?  If you don’t have “heat” on it, you roll with it and see what value there might be there.

 

Clarity of goals (where do you want to be in three years?) , depth of faith (in yourself, your companions, OR a “higher power), constant action (what do you have to do TODAY to make it happen?) and the fullness of gratitude (the antidote for fear and resentment, things that slam on your brakes) all working together, is the closest thing to the miraculous I’ve ever encountered.

 

She told me that once she “got over” the idea of Faith connected specifically to religion, once she connected that faith to herself, her allies and mentors (aww shucks, ma’am) and the sense that the universe is an action-reaction machine, she was able to function better, with an immediate result of earning a two thousand dollar commission.

 

What do I think of that?  It is interesting. Fun.  Predictable.   This “formula” needs to be anchored in every day.  Preferably while MOVING with purpose.  What you will notice once you do are a whole buncha interesting phenomena…

 

  1. You are happier all day.  You have BEGUN the day with joy, rather than thinking you must “do” something to be happy.
  2. Everything you or anything else with a nervous system has ever done is to move away from pain and toward pleasure.   When you address this directly (with gratitude and positive motion) you are cutting out the middle-man.  People will claim you are selfish.  Often this is because they are limited by that perception.  Too often it is because they fear losing a way to manipulate you.
  3. You get more done, with less resistance. You start (and/or end) the day clarifying your long-term goals AND the short term actions that will lead to them. There are no more meaningless days or actions.  None.  It is all part of the same flow.  If you think there is anything you have to do in life that is “meaningless” you have not applied your imagination, or clarified your goals and values.  
  4. You begin to attract “luck”.  I cannot explain exactly how this works, but I can tell you what it FEELS like: it is as if the harder you work, the clearer you are, the more energy you invest in your dreams the more “gravity” you get, as if there is a thing called “intentional mass” which bends the time-space around you.  People will come to you with offers and options.  It is really strange how this happens, how when you bury yourself in living a balanced, dynamic life you not only accomplish what is right in front of you, but there are unplanned ancillary effects, as if passing meteors of “opportunity” that otherwise would have zipped right by get pulled into your “gravity well”.   

 

A potential downside, by the way: you have to be careful to prioritize.  You have to learn how to say “no” (which becomes easier when your values and goals are clear), and how to recognize which things on your list are “musts” and which are “optional actions if you have time and energy at the end of the day” type thingies.   

 

As I’ve said, this is mysterious, and may be just an artifact effect, just a matter of beginning to ignore the dips and downs and distractions, and notice the good things that are always there anyway, but unseen when in a “stress tunnel.”   I don’t know. What I DO know is that it happens.

 

Try it for 30 days and see.  Walk, stretch, dance for 10-20 minutes while speaking aloud your Goals, Faith, Actions, and Gratitude.  Connect with the childhood dreams and deathbed values.   TRY IT, and then share with us your issues or discoveries.   Prove that I’m wrong, or discover that this is real.

 

Its up to you.

 

Namaste,

Steve

http://amzn.to/1NwhjOq

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Baby, it’s cold outside

Just got this blurb this morning:

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The Ancient Child meditation is the most powerful and effective meditation

I’ve ever done. A daily practice has me more focused on three things:

my professional goals, the life I want to live, and the woman I want to be.

I highly recommend this meditation for every man and woman on Earth.

 

And as a side note for you: the meditation has me honoring little girl me

and deathbed me. Life is a series of choices, and I want to honor and

respect both aspects of myself.

 

I can’t thank you enough for sharing this meditation with the world.

 

hugs

Althea

 

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There are just a few pieces of the “Awakened Adult” puzzle that seem central to me.  The “Ancient Child” is one such piece, which is why it is incorporated into STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE, my first non-fiction book. It ain’t perfect, but it is a pretty clear statement of a path by which a soul can progress.  Not the only path, not even the best.  But an honest path.

 

It is powerful because it uses a simple but deceptively complex rubric–”life is lived best when you live in alignment with both your childhood desires (the Dream) and your ultimate values, those you will hold on your deathbed (enlightenment).   The Awakened Adult seeks to navigate both simultaneously, to operate in the “Dream” world with an eye on the “Real.”

 

To “be in the world, but not OF the world” is a statement of this.  As is the concept of the “Householder Yogi”, which is one way to describe my own path.

 

In short, the process is to learn to listen to the “voice” of your “inner child.”  And then the “voice” of your inner elder, eschewing any illusion that you can avoid death.  And then live with joy and purpose as you walk the path between them.

 

One thing that results is living in alignment with your values.   In the Bible, there is a moment when Satan offers Christ all the wealth of the world if he will but bow before him.  Wonderful metaphor.   In more mundane terms, there will come moments when you will be offered power, money, fame, ego-boost, or sex if you will only abandon your values.

 

In yoga there is an idea that as you progress the spiritual path you develop powers such as precognition, unusual charisma, the unnatural ability to generate wealth, and so forth.  These things appear in your “peripheral vision” as you walk the path. If you focus on them, you leave the path, lose your way, and they evaporate…and you may not be able to find your way back onto the path.

 

If you keep your eyes on the actual goal–awakening to what is true–these other things come to you automatically.  You can enjoy them, be amused by them, integrate them into your life, but must NOT pursue them. It is so damned easy to become lost.

 

A month ago I had a conversation with a lady who is lost.  She is moderately famous, and rails constantly against dishonesty, manipulation, certain political positions, and so forth.  She condemns these things .  

 

But…she exhibits many of the precise same qualities she objects to, which she believes are destroying the world, or our country.

 

She complains about exaggeration, and exaggerates about it.

She complains about people who generalize to condemn, and generalizes to condemn.

She complains about identity politics, but practices them.

She complains about people not taking responsibility, but when challenged on ugly behavior, points her finger and says “THEY do it!”

 

And she followed the cheers of a poisonous crowd, upping the ante on her act until she actually achieved a certain minor level of fame, surrounded by a sycophantic echo chamber

 

I woke up this morning, and heard her “child” crying.   How far off the path of actually living in accordance with childhood dreams of joy and love must she be?   How out of alignment with the values that will actually remain at the end of life, after all ego has fled, and the roar of the crowd has proven to be nothing but the echoes of braying donkeys  every Awakened Adult knows them to be?   

How much fear is masquerading as love or strength?   

I feel so sorry for her. She has lost her way. She is standing in the rain, outside the road house where those who actually walk the path gather, warming themselves, sharing company and building a fire of meaning, love and connection.  She watches them pluck  the thorns out of their children’s flesh and cries “why are you talking about thorns all the time???”

It was sadness I felt this morning.  But then…I read that blurb, and know that I’m doing the work, to the best of my ability. That all I have to do is live one day at a time with the greatest integrity I can.  That my child, deep in my heart, sings to me, comforts me, wipes away my tears.

 

People say: “why do you bother with her?  When will you cut your ties?”   They are not my ties.  My connection is to the Path, not to any things or people I meet along the way.   I believe that her engagements with me are a cry for help.  I have,  many times, sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  And the wonderful men and women who have mentored me did not throw me away, did not discount me, opened the door again and again and welcomed me to the fire…if I would leave my ego at the door.

 

I will leave signs for her saying “this way to truth.  This way to awakening.”  It is up to her to travel the road. She is not on it, but hallucinates that she is, which tells me that she yearns to be free, and honest, and live in love instead of what may well be one of the deepest wells of self-loathing I’ve encountered.

 

There is nothing in her to fear, or generate anger.  Just the hope that she finds peace and love.  

 

And when she does…

 

The fire will be here, waiting.

 

Namaste,

Steve

(The Ancient Child can be found at:   http://store.payloadz.com/go?id=2198967)

How to appear superior…to yourself.

There is nothing easier than demonizing a group to make yourself look good. All you need to do is generalize from the bad behavior of individuals to the entire group, while ignoring the good done by individuals in the same group.   Easy peasy. You can do it to groups defined by gender, race, ethnicity, politics, religion, or anything else.

 

The rule, extracted, would be “I have the right to define what you are” and is usually accompanied by “But you may not have the right to define what I am.”   This is dishonesty on a fascinating scale, because it is usually a technique used by intelligent people whose forebrains are shut down by fear, smart enough to construct arguments that convince themselves and like-minded tribesmen that they are superior.

That’s fine.  They are asleep.  I enjoy pointing this out.  Those who are capable can awaken from this fear-driven nightmare.  Those who cannot provide examples to those who can.  

Live by no rule you would not want applied to yourself.
Namaste,

Steve

Do Not Think Dishonestly

I hadn’t realized how badly I needed to write STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE (available on Amazon Kindle) and get the most important 20% of the principles that lead to success down in print, so that we can reference and correlate them. All of them are shadows of another truth that can’t quite be put into words. But this book, silly as it might sound, comes as close as I’ve been able to come.

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“Do Not Think Dishonestly.”  This is the first principle in Musashi’s Book of Five Rings, and it is more important than I can say.  Human beings have a serious head-in-the-sand tendency, and when it kicks in, the amount of dishonesty that results can be life-shattering.  Here are some of the beliefs that trigger this response

 

  1. “If I don’t know of an answer, there is no answer.”   
  2. “If there is no answer, it is better to deny there is a problem.” (And it’s corrolary:  “If I don’t like the answers my political opponents offer, it is better to deny there is a problem.”)

 

Here are empowering beliefs:

  1. It is ALWAYS possible to define a situation such that it is possible to win.
  2. For adults, the harshest truth is better than the most comforting lie.
  3. The “Mastermind” principle suggests that two or more people operating in harmony have far greater intelligence than the separate individuals.  Therefore, harmonious discussion of an issue can find answers unknown to any particular individual, regardless of education or intelligence.
  4. The usefulness of a map is in knowing a) where you are on the map, b) where you are going, c) directional orientation.  Thus the necessity of telling the truth, having a definite goal/purpose, and clarifying your values.
  5. We become paralyzed when it seems there are too many moving parts, too much to do.  But if you simply deal with the “low hanging fruit”, the things you CAN do, you can always get to the “next step.”   What are some of the first steps?  Clarifying the current situation.   Forming a “master mind” of people in alignment with you.  Clarifying the desired goal, and…
  6. We must model success.  There is no human problem so bizarre and unique that no other human beings have ever faced…and successfully coped with…a similar or analogous issue.   No matter what your situation, there is someone who had less and did more.    STUDY THEM.  There is nothing sadder than a talented person who thinks they can “figure out” everything by themselves, eschewing the gathered wisdom of an entire species over thousands of years of written records.   
  7. GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS

 

I’ve never seen anyone, not a single person, who has applied these notions and remained “stuck”.  Not even close.   If you can’t change a situation, you can change your attitude towards it, such that you can find happiness…which is as close to the “meaning of life” as you’re going to express linguistically.

Just take one step a day.  Just one.   1% changes, over time, will transform your life, just as compound interest builds a fortune.    Your life, your time, your energy is YOUR fortune.  Invest in yourself today…one step at a time.

 

Namaste,

Steve

Our First Review!

 

“The stories of this family come together to pretty much prove what I would like to call a fact.. If you apply what this book was teaching then you should be able to achieve the things you want in life.. Change yourself internally and take action externally to achieve what you want..”Star Wars

 

http://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Saved-Life-adventure-ebook/dp/B0186DYDVY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448289945&sr=8-1&keywords=Star+Wars+Saved+My+Life

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Great!   Been asking myself for years what the best way to move forward with my goal of one million awake, aware, adult human beings, and we’ve taken the next logical step, the creation of STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE, our self-help book for lovers of SF films.   And while we made it to #4 on the Amazon bestsellers, the real reward is being able to engage in a conversation with the world, to look at every comment, positive or negative, and answer from a consistent framework.

Our first review (above) is five-star (Yayy!) and of course we’re eager to see the next ones, but let’s look at it.   The most important idea is the “IF” in “If you apply…”   It touches on the truth, the central truth in the book (if’s short, and can be read in a couple of hours, max).  If.

The truth is that most people who buy self-improvement books do not read them.  So we made it short: you can read it in a couple of hours, max.

The truth is that most people who read such books don’t implement them.  So we give you tiny steps you can take that will make a huge difference.  Just the “Five Minute MIracle” technique combined with the Morning Ritual (move while focusing mind and emotions for 10-20 minutes) will change your life…

And BECAUSE they can change your life, if you aren’t very careful, your ego won’t let you do them, not even something that small.  So we make it clear that no matter what your goals are (and we touch on the Big Four: saving money, creating career, finding love, losing weight) if you take certain actions regularly, you will reach your goal. The problem is sustaining a consistent acceleration, even if small.  Our emotions, habits, beliefs, values and previous associations all impact our ability to do this.

So…we must have passion. Must believe in ourselves, or our goals, or our companions, or the contribution we wish to make to the world.  Must have SOME belief larger than our egos, to keep us going through the inevitable “Dark Nights”.  And when I say inevitable, I mean just that.  There is NO way to move from one level of life to another without cracking our current “ego shell” and that means fear and aversion.  

Small, constant steps.  Improve 1% per week.  Write one sentence per day.   Get conscious of what we’re eating and how little we move.   Learn to love ourselves, and find joy in life. Spend less than you earn, and invest the rest.

 

Small steps.   The difficulty is less in defining what those steps are than being able to maintain that forward motion, let alone a constant mild acceleration.  Focusing on our goals, having faith we can and should have them, taking action daily, finding reasons for gratitude every single day.

This is the gift I want to give to each and every one of you–putting your hands on the “wheel” of your life, perhaps for the first time.  And you can.  GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS.

Try it for just thirty days.  Test me.  Prove me wrong….or give yourself the gift of a new life.

 

Namaste…and May The Force Be With You…

Steve

The Awakened Entrepreneur

I heard online entrepreneur Marie Forleo say that if you’re in a job, and you don’t want to be your boss, you might be in the wrong business.  

First, I want to see who agrees with this.  

Second, if true, I’d like to examine the implications.  Since I don’t know  your answer to the first,  let’s go directly to the second.

My core life goal has achieved greater clarity:  the creation of one million awake, aware, adult human beings.    To accomplish this, for instance, I continue to refine my approach such that I want to create a thousand awakened writers, a thousand awakened martial artists, a thousand awakened lovers, and a thousand awakened entrepreneurs.   Those are the four arenas where I believe I have something to offer, and those people, trained to touch other lives, can accomplish the rest.  “Each one teach ten,” as it were.  I’m doing a morning core-dump, so the best thing I can do is to just empty my head and list, rather than try to organize carefully.

  1. A powerful road to awakening is balance: to simultaneously seeking acceleration and mastery in the most basic aspects of life: love, health, hunting and gathering.   
  2. There are both inner and outer aspects of each, and both must be mastered to achieve real success.
  3. “Mastery” can be defined as   ability to perform your discipline in flow, under stress.
  4. The following are artificial but very useful distinctions: your “child” self, your “adult” self, and your “deathbed self”.  The child has the dreams, energy, enthusiasm, creativity, love and sheer ecstatic life force.  Your “deathbed” self holds your deepest values and spiritual self, existence beyond ego.   The “adult” self merely navigates the world on a silver thread connecting the two: to act every day in alignment with both your childhood dreams and deathbed values.
  5. The most intimate is connection to our own hearts. The most expansive will be our finances (all money is gained by exchange with others).   Fitness and relationships can be seen as links in this chain.  Therefore, by looking at the connection between our hearts (say, Heartbeat Meditation, Ancient Child) and our careers/finances, we are forced to anchor the end points of that chain.   The middle “links”–our fitness, our relationships with others–can be supported and easily examined for flaws.

While students commonly share “wounds” in these center links, if you come from self-love, with the values and behaviors that implies…and also provide service to your community anchored with the kind of self-respect that protect your income and finances, you have one hell of a foundation for life.  Yes, you can start with any of these links, but if you handle survival, sex, power, and love you have a superb foundation for growth to intellectual clarity and spiritual awareness.

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So…”the awakened entrepreneur” is not a bad starting place.  Heal yourself?  Check. Happy and grateful?  Check.    Moving beyond fear?  Check.  Serving the world?  Check. Providing a role-model of possibility?  Check.

Remember the Biblical parable of Satan offering Christ “all the world” if only He would serve hell?  That is the lure of chasing money or sex for its own sake.  Yes, you can be a “winner” in that game.  But losing your soul is a very real danger.

So…how do you do it?    The answer cannot QUITE be put into words, any more than you can describe a salad thoroughly enough to nurture your body.  But we can point toward the path of experience.  In essence tell you where YOU can buy, or how YOU can make a salad. Then, if you consume it, you will have direct experience, and draw your own conclusions. There is no profound knowledge to be gained second-hand.

If the greatest wounds I see are in self-love and finances, then let’s heal them both at the same time.

Which takes me back to the initial question.     Should you work in a job where you wouldn’t want to be the boss?

  1. Well, you will almost have to at some point in your life.  Work is hunting and gathering, on the most basic level. Just sustenance.  Be grateful you HAVE a job!  Use that time to gain greater clarity about what you want, who you are, and what the world is.   And make your plans to move in that direction.
  2. But as you become conscious, you need to find a way to align your actions with your “is-ness.”  With your heart and intent.   The money-centric question is: “how can I make the most money, and then use that to support my joy in life?” And that is dynamite, it really is.  Some of the best and most interesting people live life this way.
  3. I think there is another Way, which is more in alignment with my own essence: “What is it that I am, most deeply, what Way of being most touches my soul?” and then, frankly: “how do I monetize it?”  Remember–there is nothing wrong with this. It is simply sharing your beauty with a tribe of humans who share your value, and then exchanging value for value.  Creation of value MUST be combined with marketing and sales, or you will be one of those artists or healers living in poverty. That might be fun in your 20’s, but by 35 or so it gets a little wearying.   You are abandoning your “child” self, letting her eat candy for breakfast. Someone needs to be the adult, or you are in serious trouble.
  4. The path of life includes both finding mentors and becoming one yourself.   If your own goal is to hunt and gather in alignment with your heart, then you must exemplify this.  In my own life, I learned to make a living doing what I’d do for free: writing.   And am currently studying the masters of business, to see how this applies to other career and life paths, so that I can teach it.  
  5. Mentoring is so critical in human life that without it, we’re not much smarter than chimpanzees. Really.   The idea that we make it alone is a joke, unless you taught yourself to walk, and talk, and read in a vacuum.   Yeah, right.   So as you think of how you can teach others, you must also think about how you will learn yourself. And the fastest way to progress along any path is to find people who are further along the path than you, and model their behavior, thought patterns and emotions.
  6. A perfect example of this is to work for someone you would want to be.   Such that every day you can observe, even at a distance, who and what they are and what they do and how they act and react.   If their behavior or character is not in alignment with your own values, you will ideally find a new job, with a new boss, until you WOULD be happy on that life path.  And then…give it everything you’ve got.
  7. So should you work at a job where you wouldn’t want to be boss?   Yes…to hunt and gather and not be worried about the rent and basic needs. Chop wood, carry water.   But your life is yours, so if you would avoid resentment and existential fatigue you need to understand every day how working there is serving that child within you, and in alignment with the Ancient one drawing her last breaths.   To the degree that you can find that joy and service, you will be happy.    You owe yourself that joy, don’t you?

Every day is the first day of the rest of your life.  It is also the last day of the first of your life. The balance point is both GO FOR IT and LOVE WHERE YOU ARE.   The fastest way to change includes being grateful for where you are RIGHT NOW.

Understanding that balance is critical. And one way to achieve it is to see how what you are doing today leads to your ultimate destiny.  And a way to do that is to be learning and growing and modeling and serving…right where you are.

You can’t PUT me in a job where I can’t learn something about myself, humanity, or the world. And if my understanding of any of those things deepens…so does my soul.

Namaste,

Steve   

How should you deal with “Failure”?

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One of the core requirements of success is to unleash your passion. But the Hero’s Journey says very clearly that the way to success is laced with failure.  You WILL fall on your face, be betrayed, disappointed, rejected, ripped off, defeated. There is no way around it.  Deal with that reality.  

Why?

Because only pain tells you where the problems are, where the inadequacies are, where you need to grow, change, learn, gain allies.   And if you didn’t need to grow, change, learn, gain allies?  Usually, that means you already have “it”, that success, whatever it is.   In a few cases you find people who are hyper-prepared from some other arena (for instance, I understand Marine officers find themselves slipping into the executive suite with enormous ease: they already have many of the core qualities and experiences necessary).   In an even smaller number of cases, you have people who seem to have no previous experience at all, but can just DO it.  

They are freaks. Ignore them.  

That is as rare as getting struck by lightning as you win the Boston Marathon, and has nothing to do with what YOU need to do to succeed, or what most human beings have done to bring their dreams to reality.

For the vast majority of us, we must clarify our dreams, model success, pay the price, maintain our energy and enthusiasm over time, fall down a thousand times, and pick yourself up from the dust a thousand-and-one.

Remember that you control your emotions by controlling focus, language, and body movement.  One great way to control focus and language at the same time is to ask yourself questions.  Here are some great ones to prepare for that inevitable defeat, and get you up before the bell, ready for the next round.

  1. WHY do you need to do this?  The more urgent the need, the more driving the desire, the easier the motivation.  
  2. WHO will benefit from your success?  IT CANNOT JUST BE YOU.  When you experience failure, it hurts your ego.  Your self-esteem suffers.  When it is low, you simply can’t motivate yourself by doing something “for you.”   The voices in your head can become poisonous: “you are worthless.  You suck!   You never had any skill or talent.  Give up…”   But if you’re doing it for your children, your family, your community, your country, your tribe, the Glory of God or whatever touches your heart, you tap strength unknown to the ordinary mind, and can keep going.
  3. WHAT is your definition of success.  Be SURE that success is defined by YOUR actions.  Remember “Rocky”?    He knew he couldn’t beat Apollo Creed, the champion of the world.  But re-defined success so that it was simply being on his feet at the end of 15 rounds, something no one else had ever done. And because of that simple commitment, he (in the sequel!) beat the champ and became Champion of the World himself.  A simple shift in definitions unleashed his true power.
  4. HOW will you learn, no matter what happens?   If you study the lives of successful people, you know that they all, every one of them, find some way to meld their talents, experience, and passion with a keen perception of the market and sensitivity to the results they are getting.  Every single one of them finds THEIR unique way to succeed.  You model the basic techniques of your discipline, follow the footsteps of the masters until you achieve unconscious competence in your field, until you aren’t freaking out over the nuts and bolts.  And then…you do your own dance, find your own way.
  5. WHEN will you get back up and hit it again?   If you push for weeks or months, give it everything you have, and then don’t get the result you want (and real disappointment and anger comes not from some objective reality, but your perception that the results don’t match your expectations) then it is inevitable that you experience depression, sadness, tears, anger, disappointment.  IT IS HUMAN.    Don’t feel bad about feeling bad! The primary emotion is enough of a burden.   Personally I use the following:
  1. my daily ritual of Tai Chi, affirmation and visualization to break the negative pattern, and get back on the right path.
  2. Give yourself a period of time to be miserable.  An hour, or a day.  Literally tell yourself: “I’m going to be all messed up for THIS period of time.” The powerful thing about this is that when you say this, you are automatically implying that you are in control.  You also feel a bit of the absurdity–by OBSERVING your miserable state, you grasp that you are playing a role.  Enjoy the misery, and you are laughing at “miserable you” in a way that encourages him to laugh along with you.   Aren’t we having fun being upset?  Isn’t it funny?  
  3. I use the Ancient Child technique.   My child-self gives it everything, and can curl up in a ball, crying, when things don’t go right.   He wants to be nurtured, loved, hugged, told he’s a good boy, that I am proud of him.  Years ago, my son Jason couldn’t sleep the night before his first judo tournament.   If he lost, would I still love him?  I held him and told him that if he did his best, and fought fairly with courage and courtesy and passion, win lose or draw we’d go for ice cream.  And he came to me and said: “what I’m going to do is be still and calm, and then when the moment comes I will STRIKE like a scorpion!” and we laughed.  And the next day…he tore the mats up.  Wow.   And…we never enjoyed ice cream more.

Do you owe yourself any less?

Namaste,

Steve

Fear, every damned day.

I recently asked an old friend what they found most interesting about me. Her reply was “you have no fear.” I laughed.

Oh, yeah. I have fear. A LOT of it. The difference between who I am now and who I used to be is that I’m not afraid of my fear. I used to think that it meant that I shouldn’t, or I mustn’t, or that I was small and weak and stupid. It means none of those things. It is just my mind and body telling me that there is a challenge I must act upon or prepare for. Fight, or flight, or proof of concept. A chance to be what I really am, and burn away the imperfections or tear away the masks. If I use that adrenaline to train with, study with, drive my mental or physical actions, fear turns into power.

For instance…I used to be afraid of sparring, an actual phobic response resulting from childhood abuse. I had no advisors to help me, no father or brother or uncles to tell me that EVERYONE feels fear, so it turned on me like a snake, and made every martial arts class hell. But what I learned to do, finally was put up a heavy bag, imagined myself getting the @#$$ humiliatingly beaten out of me in front of my friends and family. And then…hit that bag. Beat it until I was exhausted, and tears streamed down my face, and the sick feeling in my stomach turned into rage. And then keep going until that rage turned into pure energy, into technique, into stimulus and response, the pure survival drive older than thought, or complex emotion. And then, when sweat and tears were indistinguishable, I would curl up next to the bag and cry some more, until there were no more tears. And then take a shower and try to wring more tears out of myself, aching for the little boy inside me who was so hurt, felt so abandoned, wondered if he was so hideous and weak that no one wanted to be his daddy, no one wanted to protect him and help him. And swear to that boy that “Daddy is home”.  Imagine him cowering behind me, knowing that I would die to protect him afraid or not, weak or not, that I would bring 100% of who I am and what I am.

And you know what?  That is all that little boy inside me needed to know, and when I stood up, sobbing in the shower, he told me he loved me with all his heart. And his love and energy joined with my willingness to die to protect him, and gave me more than courage.  It gave me faith. Faith that the world doesn’t ask more than we can give.  It often asks for more than our egos can handle, but when we love something larger than that ego, we find everything that we need.

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The martial arts are where I learned that lesson, one painful day at a time. But I’ve found it also in my writing, and in my family life.  All based on the willingness to do whatever it takes to protect that little boy inside me.

We love each other like crazy. Jason and Nicki are, in many ways, just  externalizations of that, a way of testing the reality of that commitment.  As is my adoration of Tananarive or my sister Joyce, or my dear first wife Toni, or my nieces and nephews, and my extended family and closest friends…and students and clients and business associates and neighbors, an expanding circle of love and connection going out to the world.

Every single day I connect with that boy inside me, the one who began this journey. And the old man I will be on my deathbed.   When I face a challenge, as we all do, every day, I expose my heart to the elements and feel that fear, tell myself the truth.  I AM AFRAID.  AND THE FEAR MEANS THAT I AM ALIVE, AND GROWING.  I must work.  Must love.  Must prepare–the challenge is coming.  I must be willing to stand and roar I AM HERE!

Do my very best. And if I do…if I honestly do the best I can, then win lose or draw, that little boy will hold me, and hug me, and love me, and say: “you did your best, Daddy.  What do you always tell me?  Just do my best.  That’s what you did.  For me.  I will love you forever.”

And when it comes right down to it…that’s all I need.

Namaste,

Steve

Dissolving the barrier

I was thinking recently on the question of sexual connection, and specifically on the most fulfilling relationships or contacts I’ve had or observed.  The question was “how can I be a better lover?” or “how can I achieve higher level of sexual satisfaction?”

Curiously, over time I came to believe that the answer is connected to several other questions: how can I be a better friend?  How can I have deeper friendships?

How can I be a better salesman?  How can I better serve my community, and be supported in return?

And: How shall I be in the world?  Who am I, in the arena of relationships?  How can I tap into my deepest reserves of excellence?

And over time, these all melded together.  When I thought back over the very best lovers, friends, business connections, teachers and masters I’ve known, there was a thread of connection that became obvious in retrospect.  I cannot language it directly, but I can dance around it by speaking of the characteristics to be found.

  1. They concentrate not on themselves.  Or on you.  But on the relationship, the “isness” created by the two of you.   They feed the energy by treating your body as if it is part of theirs, actually gain pleasure by giving YOU pleasure.
  2. In other words, they enter “flow” in the sense that an artist becomes part of the art. In the words from the immortal Flashdance, they “enter the danger zone, where the dancer becomes the dance”.  The energy released is the “fusionary” response of dissolving the subject-object relationship.  The intensity of an orgasm is precisely this energy.
  3. They must maintain their balance, their center.   Must love themselves. Otherwise, they will give themselves away to the wrong person. Give EVERYTHING and get back nothing.  Only experience can teach you to recognize givers and avoid takers.   You’ll run into them, sure. But by paying attention to what people DO as opposed to what they SAY, you learn to identify your tribe, those who take pleasure in giving, and to do 80% of your giving to them.

Let’s look at how this works:

  1. In relationships, you nurture them as places to GIVE rather than get. But you also need to be aware and adult enough to realize you cannot give forever to someone who only takes.  You feed the relationship with your love, your energy, your creativity and awareness, and then share the banquet.
  2. In business, you are there to serve your customers, provide value, uplift and support them.   But you must be certain that they are honest, capable of fairly compensating you, and value the relationship as you do.
  3. In the physical realm, training partners can be the most valuable assets you can have.   And they must work with you not merely to dominate, or better themselves, but to join with you and help you as well.   To this end, it is best to spend ⅓ of your training time with people better than you, ⅓ with people at the same level, and ⅓ with people you can lead.
  4. In personal accomplishment, you want to immerse yourself so deeply in your task that the rest of the world disappears.     And here, you need to have enough “center” that you can give yourself totally to the activity without damaging yourself.

Look…these are morning thoughts. They are not polished, but I have been thinking of them over the last few weeks, trying to decide if or how or when to share.   If these thoughts are of interest, let me know, and I’ll dive deeper.

Namaste,

Steve

An INSANELY powerful incantation!

I’ve spoken of the power of morning rituals, of chanting an incantation WHILE moving with power and authority. Walking, dancing, yoga, Tai Chi, running, Tibetans. It doesn’t matter, but move and chant AT THE SAME TIME. I came across a very powerful incantation recently, by Thomas Anderson:
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“Now I am the voice. I will LEAD, not follow. I will CREATE, not destroy. I am a FORCE FOR GOOD. I am a LEADER. I will DEFY THE ODDS. I will Set a NEW STANDARD. Step Up. STEP UP. STEP UP!!”
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Anyone who could chant this for 15-45 minutes while moving continuously, and deal positively with the demons in their head screaming doubt and fear as they do (the “little you” will do ANYTHING to stop you from growing!) is someone I’d be proud to watch my back. I’d bet on them to prevail against anything life can throw at them.