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"Steven Barnes (is) uniquely powerful
(in helping others balance) their physical
and emotional arenas along a spiritual pathway
to abiding self love and unifying purpose."
--Gerald M. Levin,
Former CEO, Time/Warner
“Thank you, brother. I took the psychological grace
you helped me foster into the cauldron….and came out with the gold. You’re the best!”
--Scott Sonnon, four-time Gold Medal Winner, 2010 World Martial Arts Game
"(I thought) this program would
be helpful. I was wrong. It wasn't helpful. It
changed my life. It SAVED my life." --LaVeda Mason, writer
"This program of meditation quite literally saved my life."--Michael Harper
I can only address this question using my own definitions of the term. My favorite definition, which seems by implication to be shared by every spiritual master from every discipline I take seriously, is the Sufi saying that “enlightenment is the door of perception that ordinarily opens at the moment of death. The Seeker attempts to open it before they get there.”
Roughly, then, we’re talking about the unraveling of the ego cocoon. That...is something that can’t quite be put into language although one can dance around it, or point toward it. It is something beyond the “mere” stripping away of all superfluous and conflicting “programs” that prevent our operating systems from working at full efficiency and effectiveness.
A couple of years ago, I asked Buddhist scholar and long-time deep practitioner Charles Johnson if the following spectrum of human consciousness made sense from his perspective, and to my relief, it did. This is just A way of discussing something that evades true discussion, especially in print:
Sleeping Child. The state we begin life in. The consensual “dream”.
Sleeping Adult. Once you have accepted responsibility for your actions and emotions, and are self-supporting, you are an adult. But you are still within the dream, mistaking symbols for the things they represent. A person can be HUGELY successful in life by all external standards, and still be “asleep”. Such people play the “game” of life as if it is a real thing. In essence, they play Monopoly and live in Park Place.
Awakened Adult. This is the first step into the next realm. Agency, responsibility, beginning to move beyond symbols, getting the “joke” of writing a play and then acting in it and forgetting your wrote it. there are a few “awakened children” and these are the kinds of kids who blow us away. They are also sought by Lamas and awakened folks, often considered reincarnations of various highly developed souls.
Awakened Adult with intermittent non-dualistic awareness. You begin to move beyond yin and yang, Conservative and Liberal, Male and Female, black and white, etc. etc. You glimpse the experience beyond language, and being beyond thought. This is probably the end of the “useful” part of the consciousness spectrum, in terms of ordinary life.
Awakened Adult with sustained non-dualistic awareness. This is the end of the road in terms of what can be described linguistically. We all grasp this space at times, but most of us lose it once the motivating event, experience, or insight recedes.
“Enlightenment” lurks beyond step #5. It cannot be languaged efficiently or effectively, but there are a number of wonderful metaphors that can help us understand. One of my favorites is that in step #5 you live “here” but can visit “there.’ But at step #6 you live “there” but can, if you wish, visit “here.”
All right. To the degree that those comments are useful, it is possible to say precisely what the “Ancient Child 30-Day” is designed to do: provide the internal/external alignment precursive to step #3 within ten hours, at twenty minutes a day for a month. To actually feel the body/mind/emotion feels like. I’ve given people a taste of this in Tai Chi workshops over the years, but it took a very long time to figure out how to duplicate that effect at long distance. Can’t begin to tell you the number of combinations of visualization, action, and emotion were tried and discarded. But with the help of countless teachers and students...the problem has been solved. And once you are at step #3, you’ll see how to get to #4. And once you’re there...you’ll see the way to #5. And once there...you’ll understand what is necessary to move further, and deeper. Whether you do will be up to you, and your innate capacity. So...emotional healing, energy, focus, balance, accomplishment, self-love, creativity, compassion, responsibility...yes.
Enlightenment is a horse of a different color, dancing a couple of horizons away (or right under your butt! All depends on perspective...)
Of course, you can always simply wait. We all get there!
I wish I could say that I “created” this amazing program, but the truth is that what I’ve done is gathered the very best from the very finest men and women I’ve ever been blessed to study with, practiced it all to the best of my ability, and find the point inside myself that all roads lead to...and then ask WHAT WERE THEY ALL SAYING IN COMMON?
Wonderful teachers like Sri Chinmoy, Tim Piering, Dawn Callan, Steve Muhammad, Harley “Swift Deer” Reagan, Scott Sonnon, Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari...disciplines like Ashtanga yoga, Ericksonian hypnosis, NLP, Martial Arts, Transcultural Shamanism, the Sweet Medicine Sundance Path…
What did they all say? What was it my teachers were trying to bang into my #$%% head?
Whatever you want to master, you have to do EVERY DAY.
You have to integrate mind, body, and emotion, or you can never be whole.
You have to RAISE YOUR ENERGY if you want to get out of your rut…
For years, I taught Tai Chi to thousands of students, often in a hyper-short form, having only an hour or two to give them something of value. How could I do that, when it takes A YEAR just to learn the basic form?
The answer is: I cheated.
I would get the students to speak of their lives, their hopes and dreams, anchor those emotions into their bodies. Then teach them how to move and breathe properly, and the relationship between breathing and stress. Give them just a few moments of greater flow...and then send them out into their lives.
And for decades, they’ve begged for more. A way to continue the process on their own. But how could I? What could I possibly do to help them, when I’M NOT THERE?
I had to combine motion, emotion, and directed thought. Why? Because the quality of your life is the quality of your emotions. And emotion is created by WHAT YOU SAY, WHERE YOU DIRECT YOUR MENTAL FOCUS, AND THE WAY YOU USE YOUR BODY. Control these three, and you have control of your emotions. Fail to control these three, and your emotions control you.
After years of testing, I decided that the wonderful knowledge with which my teachers had entrusted COULD be passed on, at a distance, IF…
I could get the student to perform a brief (20 minutes!) “ritual” of motion, emotion, and directed thought daily.
I could find a physical routine that can be performed by anyone, anywhere, without equipment and with minimal instruction. Something tested and both efficient and effective and SAFE.
I could create a GUIDED VISUALIZATION designed to heal the heart, guide the mind, and nourish our creative spirits.
The idea is simple: YOU CAN BEGIN YOUR PROGRESS AS A HUMAN BEING FROM THE HEART “OUT” OR FROM THE BODY “UP”, BUT NEVER EVER EVER FROM THE HEAD “DOWN.”
But if you can heal the heart AND awaken the body, you can root yourself in your actual being. Tap into your real potential as a human being. Literall “reparent” yourself by learning as you did as a child: beginning by swathing yourself in a cocoon of love, and exploring the physical universe. THAT is what triggers the accelerated learning we experienced as children. THAT is what you need to erase the negative learnings, and imprint the lessons, attitudes, and emotional perspectives you need to be the person you were born to be.
That every other program I’d ever created was, as powerful and effective as they were, not rooted in an ideal balance, didn’t change the body mind and emotions as an integrated unit, the “psychotensegrity” my teachers hammered into my thick skull as the answer to all of the pain, and grief, and fear I dealt with before they set me free.
And...the ANCIENT CHILD THIRTY-DAY PROGRAM addresses all three, for the very first time. I know of no program, anywhere, at any price, that brings them all together in such a manner. You commit to just TWENTY MINUTES A DAY FOR THIRTY DAYS and you will…
Learn a ritual of motion, emotion, and thought that can transform your entire life.
Learn the power of the “Secret Formula” when anchored into your body. (GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS!)
Learn a combination of physical movements that can provide 80% of the physical and mental benefits of Tai Chi or Yoga, but can be learned in a fraction of the time, without a live teacher, and can be performed by a Newbie or an Olympian with benefit! Start at any fitness/health level, and ultimately produce strong basic overall fitness in about 10-20 minutes a day!
Learn to love yourself, deeply enough to both forgive imperfections and develop unstoppable DRIVE to improve and discipline...while enjoying each and every day of your precious life!
Develop a unique balance of “Child”, “Adult” and “Elder” selves. ALL YOU NEED TO SUCCEED IN LIFE IS TO BALANCE THE DREAMS OF CHILDHOOD WITH THE VALUES YOU WILL HOLD ON YOUR DEATHBED. Life doesn’t get better than that!
And much much more. The organization and integration has been done for you. ALL YOU ADD IS YOUR OWN COMMITMENT TO YOURSELF, JUST TWENTY MINUTES, FOR THIRTY DAYS...AND YOU’LL KNOW IF I’M SPEAKING THE TRUTH.
I’m betting that once you understand, once you EXPERIENCE, you’ll want to continue for a lifetime. You won’t SETTLE for a scattered, “o.k” life any more. Once you discover what happens when you integrate body, mind, and spirit into a single force, you will understand where you have “leaked” energy and effectiveness. You’ll love yourself even more for how much you’ve been able to accomplish with all the conflicting, sometimes painful messages you’ve operated with all your life.
What happens if you load a bunch of conflicting programs into your computer? It slows down. It crashes. Well gee...did every parent, teacher, authority figure, friend, boss, bully, enemy, abuser or anyone else you ever had to deal with consult with each other about the lessons they were going to teach you? Think their lessons conflicted? Think this might explain why you have trouble motivating yourself to lose weight? Finish that novel? Find the love of your life? Manage your money? Find inner peace?
You think? Well, you’re an ADULT now. You can take control. And the ANCIENT CHILD THIRTY DAY PROGRAM can put your hands on the wheel of your earthly vehicle. Because frankly, if you aren’t driving, your car is careening along a mountain road with the driver asleep at the wheel, and your kids screaming in the back seat “WAKE UP!”
All you’ll need to do is commit to thirty days of self-support. To listen to the “Ancient Child” visualization once a week. Then the other six days perform a very gentle physical exercise for twenty minutes while speaking aloud your commitments to your own growth, intentions wellness, healing, and happiness. That’s it. COMMIT TO BEING HAPPY.
If at the end of thirty days you don’t agree that you feel better, have gotten more done, are more clear, directed, more filled with love and life...your money will GLADLY be refunded.
Give yourself a favor. Make 2015 the very best year of your life, starting NOW. Order the ANCIENT CHILD THIRTY DAY PROGRAM...the first of a new world of possibilities, committed to making YOU the hero in the adventure of your lifetime.
THE NEW "ANCIENT CHILD: EVOLUTION" COURSE WILL BE AVAILABLE BY THE 13TH OF DECEMBER. PLEASE SET YOUR CALENDAR!
"(The Ancient Child:Evolution) Meditation by Steven Barnes quite literally saved my life!"--Michael Harper
And it’s been my experience that when I run into one of those 1%? They know exactly what I’m talking about, why I take the attitude I do, and are not offended in the slightest. Any emotional reaction? They aren’t in the 1%
My notes on yesterday:
As mentioned by others, N. is disturbed about the increasing instability of his wife. Concerned that she may attempt suicide, it seemed best to place him in a resourceful state where he cannot allow her to guilt-trip him, but still is fully invested in being the best husband (and primarily, PERSON) possible.
I asked N. what his wife's "love language" was, and he couldn't allow himself to understand the question--kept speaking of what he had done to try to communicate love to her. Turned that around and asked how she had demonstrated love to him during the ten-year "honeymoon period" following his affair. This was on the theory that people generally communicate in their own language, so that if you grasp how they speak to you, often they are telling you how they need you to speak to them.
This was a little better---but still not "there." Also, I helped him see that her anger was fear, and that they had complementary wounds.
1) He was a great high school athlete.
2) His grandfather (not his abusive father) loved him.
3) He knows how to make money. Lots of it. (His philosophy is very very simple, btw: tell the truth, do what you say, deliver it on time)
We evoked a memory of his best sports performance, a perfect day with his grandfather, and a "personal best" business deal. All had something in common--the sensation of "simplicity."
So after evoking some of those emotions, and helping him center himself, we worked on anti-stress breathing to retrain his sympathetic responses. He felt in the "eye of the storm" at that point, and we took that same sensation into a Tai Chi push-hands drill, where he learned how to defend himself while remaining balanced, sensitive, and flowing. This tapped into his competitive drive, and I deliberately triggered defensive responses, then helped him relax into centering again and again, to "wire in" the new response.
After we'd finished, he felt hyper-alert and aware, and remembered that he and his wife had vacationed in (South America) during their "honeymoon phase" and she had danced alone for hours and he had not joined her. Saw this as a way of reaching her. He needs to dance with her.
I took all the positive memories and helped him collate and store them emotionally in his heart, created a "guardian" self to protect them AND his inner child, and ended the session.
N. is a great guy, really.
I think back on yesterday. It was a tough day, but man, I love this work. Working with a team of doctors and therapists, anchoring their work into my client’s lives with breathing, ritual, meditation...whatever it takes.
I can’t do that with my writing. It just doesn’t “use me up” the same way.
Life is good.
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE
In the last 24 hours, I’ve dealt with four different students or clients where the core issue is one of self-love. Deservement. The following things were triggers:
1) Childhood abuse, both sexual and psychological. Being touched inappropriately, told they are worthless, used as “things” rather than people before the full development of ego walls.
2) Perceived betrayal of childhood ambitions. Either giving them up, or doing things to achieve them that were in violation of core values.
3) Abusive adult relationships. “Crazymakers” who bond to you powerfully economically, emotionally, or sexually. And then...gaslight you. If you don’t know the term, see the movie. Basically these are people who are either emotionally imbalanced or have some drive to unbalance you, keep you from leveraging your intelligence and emotions, with an end to domination. To do this, they either criticize or terrorize you, until you have twisted yourself into a knot to please them, and no longer know where “north” is on your personal compass. At that point, you are infantalized, willing to do whatever it takes to keep them happy so that you can escape the pain. Brutal.
4) Physical injury or dysfunction. A serious injury or disease, or your body “not working as it is supposed to”--inability to perform in some expected fashion. Inability to sustain a pregnancy, sensory or motor issues, chronic pain, sexual non-performance, etc.
5) Making terrible relationship choices. Our relationships are mirrors--they were the best we believed we could do, at that time. When our partners turn out to be crazies, monsters, abusers, habitual liars, druggies or alcoholics, rage-beasts and gaslighters we fear our own judgement. How could we have..? What does it mean about us..? Will we ever find happiness..? Are we too broken for anyone to really love us..?
There are more, of course. But this will get you started.
THE MORNING RITUAL
For two years now, I’ve worked on a “Morning Ritual” with Jason. A year ago I decided the results were so impressive that I decided to create one for myself. It was a matter of creating a complete daily practice that touches on every aspect of raising, directing, clarifying and refining our emotional, mental, and physical selves. And it had to be healing and generative--had to deal with issues you don’t even know that you have. But in addition, it had to be capable of focusing in on a specific problem once you have detected it.
The above problems can be addressed with the “Ancient Child” technique, your “set up” behavior done the moment you wake up in the morning. It is a way of “wiring around” whatever damage has happened to you in life. The theory is simple: there is a part of you that is still untouched by the pain of existence, whatever it has been. Make contact with it, and you are connecting to the best and healthiest part, and can receive its “aliveness”. But also, by making contact with the symbol of this “inner child” you can affect a healing process just by imagining holding, hugging, playing, and soothing, as you would with a “real” child. Simply saying “I love you. You are beautiful, and wonderful, and as perfect as any star in the heavens” again and again, will have a cumulative positive effect in the same way that saying the opposite (or hearing it said to you, especially in an emotionalized context) has a negative effect. The feedback loop goes both ways.
If you see a parent screaming curses at a child, you KNOW this is damaging. Why, then, do we resist the notion that positive words and deliberate positive thoughts and images can have a POSITIVE effect? Why?
This morning, I started by connecting with my heartbeat, and then gathered the light within me to create my usual 8-year old boy. We sat on the edge of a pier, fishing together (oddly, one of the few memories I have of good times with my Dad was fishing. Hmmm) and while we did, I asked his opinion of my current activities and progress.
He was happy. Felt I needed to put more time into the book I’m finishing, and that I needed to be sure to tell Jason how proud of him I am. “I’m happy to be home”, he said, and leaned his head on my shoulder. We watched the sunrise together. “Another day, daddy. I love you.”
The sun melded into my heartbeat. The light contracted and then diffused. I was ready for my day.
Decades ago I ruptured my relationship with that little kid inside me. It took me a year of constant, daily work to rebuild the connection, and it was the best invested effort of my life. If I’d had the technology I have today, I suspect it would have taken about a month.
Whatever happened to you in your past, whoever hurt you, however you may have sold out your dreams, I invite you to spend thirty days, just one month, to see if this approach works for you.
1) Wake up. Sit up. Listen to/feel your heartbeat. Find the light inside you and dwell within it for a few minutes.
2) Form the light into the largest human form composed of solid lumination. Be very quiet, and see if it has words for you.
3) At the crown of your head, imagine the “older” you on your deathbed. Listen quietly to see if he or she has something to say.
4) Draw a line of light from the “Child” to your heart. Then, down from your “elder” to your heart. Sit quietly and listen if they have a conversation. When they are done you may ask questions. Thank them
5) Take five deep breaths and get up. All of this can take less than three minutes!
6) Perform your Daily Ritual. While moving dynamically (walking, sun salutations, tai chi, Flow Fit, calisthenics, running, etc) speak four incantations, each for 2-5 minutes:
a) “Every Day in Every Way I’m getting better and better”
b) “I’m so grateful for--” (past and present blessings)
c) “I’m so grateful for--” (future goals)
d) “All I need is within me now.”
Be sure that you are covering all elements of the “Secret Formula”: Goals X Faith X Action X Gratitude = Results.
You have done two steps of your “Five minute miracle” practice. Three more times during the day become aware of your breathing for sixty seconds. Quickly visualize/emotionalize your goals and actions. Just “check in”.
Total daily practice: about 10-30 minutes. If you believe you don’t have the time, start with just the “Five Minute Miracle” of five sixty second “breathing breaks”. Chance are very very good that you won’t be able to discipline yourself to do this without heroic effort. You have found your ego resistance.
You can’t control what happened to you in your past, but as they say...it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
STRESS AND THE THIRTY-DAY CHALLENGE
In life, they pay you for how much stress you can take without cracking. One of the participants in the Challenge mentioned that stress is increasing in his life as he hits his 14th Day. Some thoughts:
1) 100% predictable that you will hit stress points. Moving from one level to the next in your life requires energy, and piercing any veil of illusion frees it...and some of that energy will spin you. The better balanced you are, the easier it is to “roll with it” and in fact you can actually measure your balance or lack thereof by the amount of dizziness or stress you feel.
2) It isn’t stress that hurts you, its “strain”. Stress is just the amount of pressure you’re under, while “strain” is the degree to which that stress warps you out of true.
3) Psychological stress causes physical effects. The good news is that physical motion controls psychological stress as well. The Triad of “Breath, Movement, and Structure” is one way to look at this: if you breathe as if powerful, move as if relaxed and hold your posture as if confident, you will begin to feel that way. There’s more: your facial expression, your self-talk and the things you say aloud, the things you focus on, ALL influence stress level. How you use your body, what you focus on.
4) Your “Morning Ritual” branches into the “Ancient Child” (connection with core aliveness and deep values, self-healing) and the “Five Minute Miracle” (five sixty-second `breathing breaks’ during the day). That means that, ideally, you begin your day by getting in touch with your instincts and values, then take that energy into your day. You move your body, connect with your belief that today can be better than tomorrow (Heck, sing “Tomorrow” from “Annie” if that works for you!), fill yourself with gratitude, seek that same feeling in connection to your daily and future goals, then reinforce your confidence that you can and should do these things, and have all the ability you need. Then at least three more times during the day (the ‘Ancient Child’ can be 5MM #1, the “Morning Ritual” #2) you check your breathing. IF YOU BREATHE AS IF YOU ARE CONFIDENT, YOU BEGIN TO FEEL THAT WAY.
5) Infusing all of this is the Secret Formula: Goals (did you connect with your childhood dreams and deathbed values?) X Faith (do you see that you’ve already accomplished wonderful things? And have the internal resources to accomplish more?) X Action (do you see what you need to do TODAY to take another step toward your goals?) X Gratitude (are you happy for another day to seek, to strive, to live, to love?).
Can you see how all these things are wrapped together?
6) Have you chosen physical motion that is nurturing, invigorating, and will take you to your destination? Yoga, Tai Chi, a good calisthenic program, Sun Salutations, Five Tibetans, Joint recovery, FlowFit...the possibilities are almost endless. TWENTY MINUTES OUT OF EVERY DAY BELONGS TO YOU. If you think not, check to be sure you are taking your Five Minute Miracle. If you aren’t, and think it is because you lack time, YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF.
7) Separate what you “need” from what you “want.” OMG, is this important. Our “wants” are endless. Our “needs” are relatively simple and sane. The inability to do this relates to an imbalance of the Child and Adult personalities, and can be addressed with the “Ancient Child”.
Which takes us back to the beginning. Are you grasping the shape of this? The way the different pieces fit together? The redundancy built in? The infinite uses and applications? I hope so...this is your life, and you deserve to create one filled with passion and joy, contribution and growth.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. And you’ll be taking a bow all too soon.
THIRTY DAY CHALLENGE
I want to extend a challenge to each and every one of you. It is this: perform, at least, the “Morning Ritual” part of this program for thirty days. It will take a minimum of ten minutes. If after thirty days you don’t agree that you feel fantastic, and have accomplished more than you did in the previous three months, please conclude I am a total fraud and never pay the slightest attention to me again.
But if you love it...then you will teach three friends how to do this. Deal? Pass it on. THAT IS ALL I ASK. Is that fair?
Thirty Days. What do you have to lose? I will go back over these elements, but here is the overview:
If the core is Self-discovery (starting with Self-love, and then expanding definition of Self to include others) then we have to ask why this gift of knowledge and power is so elusive. I suggest that the reason is that we do what is imperative rather than what is important.
We have endless hours for Facebook, or television, or trivial entertainment, but no time to stop and think/feel about our own lives. Why? Because if we took that time, we would peel back the levels of our ego like an onion, and discover that the Emperor has no clothes. And would be slowly, gradually, drawn toward our Truth, wherein lies genuine joy, pleasure, flow and excellence.
And our egos can’t have THAT. This non-dualistic perception is threatening as hell to anyone who relies upon me-them, or us-them, or this-that to define their world. As a tool? Sure. As the toolbox? No.
So the thing we lack is time and focus. If the “Diamond Hour” concept is the idea of taking one hour a day back from the world, I can re-assert that this is the kind of power few people will allow themselves, and everyone will come up with a different reason. And not a single person reading these words doesn’t have free time they could devote to themselves.
How to start? I want to look at the minimum factors:
1) The Five Minute Miracle. Sixty second “breathing breaks” taken five times a day. These are designed to break stress-strain patterns, lead to “perpetual meditation” and prove to you that you DO have time. That if you say you don’t, you are lying to yourself. And by doing that you are breaking Musashi’s first principle: “Do Not Think Dishonesty.” You cannot progress until you get “right” with this. You will literally be lost in illusion. START HERE.
2) Heartbeat Meditation. Once you have established the first habit, when you first wake up in the morning, expand one of those minutes into 3-20 minutes of thinking/feeling your heartbeat.
3) Ancient Child.
a) Visualize yourself looking at yourself in a mirror. See the amount of light in your body, and condense it down into a child-form, even if it is no more than a fertilized egg (avoiding, please, the sticky political issues involved here. This is a visualization, not a statement or position.) This represents your level of development before the stresses of life and existence damaged you. Concentrating day after day will increase the size of this. When it gets large enough to speak to you, listen. Then...sink this down to the root of your spine.
b) And create another light-form at the crown of your head, symbolizing your “inner elder.” Connect the two with a line of light. Listen to them talk to each other.
c) Time-line/ “Secret Formula”. Gotten this far? Great! Next, it is time to listen to what the Child and Elder things are saying, and find ways to align your daily activities with them. GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS. Visualize the end point of your goals in all FOUR major arenas: Body, Career, Relationship, Finances. Check your emotions--do you believe you CAN and SHOULD? If not, “chunk it down” into smaller bites until you have a goal you CAN believe in, the completion of which will take you to the next level, where you can see a little further. And are you filled with GRATITUDE for what you already have, and are about to do today? Yes? Then go on…
The preceeding can be done in less than five minutes, once you get the knack. Then you get up and move to…
4) The Morning Ritual. This is movement, thought, and emotion. The earlier technique, moved to the dynamic. IF YOU HAVE TO DO ONLY ONE STEP, DO THIS ONE. Why? Because you can include the others in THIS one, but not vice-versa. What you need here is something dynamic, some motion that, if it was the ONLY physical motion you got all day, you’ve still done yourself good. Here are some possibilities:
3) Tai Chi (mine)
5) Joint Mobility
7) Jumping rope (if you can do this, you are FIT, brother!)
You’ll need 10-20 minutes. Call it 20 minutes, using percentages of 25%-25%-25%-25%
a) First five minutes: “Every Day in Every Way I’m Getting Better and Better”. Chant this OUT LOUD. With feeling, finding the place inside you that can believe it.
b) Next five minutes: “I am SO grateful for…” These are things in your past and present you have and have achieved. Think it feel it experience. For me? Having a strong healthy body, people who love and trust me, a dynamic career, and walking the path of Mastery in yoga, martial arts, and being a husband and father.
c) Next Five minutes: “I am SO grateful for…” things in your future. THESE ARE YOUR GOALS. Goals in all four major arenas. Take the “Time Line” you created in sitting meditation, and project it out in front of you now that you are moving. Your blood should be pumping. Your energy is UP! You are aligning your mind, your emotions, and your physicality. When you do that, you are becoming a “human laser”, as powerful as you are capable of ever being.
THIS is the time to feel your way through the “Secret Formula”: powerful goals in all four arenas? Check. Faith that you CAN and SHOULD do this? Check. Knowledge of the ACTION STEPS you will take today that will move you closer? Those steps need no “luck”, no “begging”, no “waiting” for the universe to respond? Got your “patience my ass….I’m gonna kill something?” attitude? Check. GRATITUDE for another day of life, another chance to hug and serve the people you love? Another whack at the pinata? Check.
d) Last Five Minutes: “All I need is within me now”. CHANT THIS. Out loud. With power. All the faith I need. All the creativity I need. All the health. Energy. Security. Power. WHATEVER YOU NEED. Chant it. Feel it. Believe it.
And after that? Either go into your 30 minutes of daily exercise, or just get into your day. Carry that positivity, energy, posture, aliveness. No begging, no excuses, nothing but the commitment to do TODAY all that can be done TODAY, to the very best of your ability. Do that, every day, and you will have a life of meaning and power.
I will go back over these pieces. But THIS, done every day, with power, will change you. Let’s do this together, for the next thirty days.
Let’s change your life.
I’ll be going more deeply into the “Forty Five Day Challenge” (might change that back to a 30-day. Need to think about it) that centers around a Daily Ritual of movement, thought, focus, and emotion. As designed, we’re trying to find a way to apply various different ways of raising and directing our energy so that it takes us where we want to go.
Two ways of looking at this:
1) Move for ten-twenty minutes a day. Walk, yoga, lift weights, Tai Chi (mine), rebound, joint mobility etc. Get the blood pumping. If for 20 minutes:
a) First five minutes: Chant “Every Day In Every Way I’m Getting Better and Better”
b) Second five minutes: Chant “I’m so grateful for X” (things in the past and present)
c) Third five minutes: Chant “I’m so grateful for Y” (future goals.)
d) Last five minutes: Chant “All I need is within me now” (listing all the qualities you need to create your dreams)
While doing this, be sure to incorporate the “Secret Formula”--Goals X Faith X Action X Gratitude = Results
That means that YOU take responsibility. No begging, pleading, or expecting unusual “luck.” You know what you want, why you want it, and believe you can and should have it. Know what you have to do to make today a perfect step in the process. And are filled with gratitude RIGHT NOW for all your blessings.
Do this, every morning, for 45 days. And every day work to improve a little: increase focus and clarity. Shut your mind more tightly against negative voices. Move a little faster. Allow the emotions to flood more deeply. Learn greater sophistication in your motion. Improve your posture to make it more positive and dynamic. Breathe with greater power.
That’s the core. But we also spoke of other steps to support this process. To learn to go deeper. Here they are in rough order of importance.
1) Five Minute Miracle. This is the bottom line, because you MUST stop lying to yourself about not having “time.” Five sixty-second breathing breaks.
2) Heartbeat meditation. Take one of the “5MM” breaks and expand them out.
3) Mirror exercise. After you have the first two solid, during Heartbeat med, see yourself in the mirror, and see how much “light” you can see in your body. It will probably be diffuse and faint.
4) “The Ancient Child”---this is a sophistication of the mirror exercise. The idea is that the amount of “light” you can see in your “reflection” represents your degree of clarity. That clarity is disrupted over the course of your life by physical and emotional pain. In other words, it is a measure of your undamaged, original self. Let’s get to work with it: collect that light into a solid form. This may be difficult, and could take weeks or months, depending on what you’ve been dealing with.
When you condense it down, create a human form. Might be a six-year old. Or a newborn. Or a single fertilized cell. Whatever it is, this is your foundation, and daily focus upon it will nurture and expand it.
Get quiet enough, and you MAY be able to hear it whisper to you. Or if a child, speak to you. This conversation will be one of the most important of your life, and I want you to discover this for yourself.
Now...after you have established the “Child” and linked him/her to your “heart” during meditation, the next step is to visualize the “ancient” you. The old man/old woman you will be on your deathbed, beyond all lies, ego, ambition, or need for trivial approval points. You won’t get any “realer” than this. The Sufi expression that “enlightenment is the door of perception that opens at the moment of death. The Spiritual Aspirant merely seeks to open this door prior to that moment.”
There are years of teaching that can relate to this concept. Let’s just say that when you have the “Child” and “Elder” selves (the child at the “root” chakra, the elder at the crown, a line of light connecting them along your spine) well established (this could take months or years. No hurry!) listening to the conversation between the two of them could well be one of the most mind-blowing experiences of your life. YOU POSSESS NO GREATER WISDOM that what will be revealed in this version of the Ericksonian “parts party.” This is major, life-changing stuff.
The “Inner Child” part of this meditation was specifically designed to “wire around” damage, pain, failure, abuse, and other issues. No matter what has happened to you, if you shrink your ego-expectations down small enough, you can find clarity and light.
No matter what your limitations, there is still clear water amid the muck, if you go deeply enough. No matter what your memories of pain or rejection, at SOME point in your life, you experienced love and nurturance, or you wouldn’t have survived. NO EXCEPTIONS.
The point is that you are now responsible for you. Adulthood is the point of connation, the willingness to say “if it’s to be its up to me.” No one is coming to rescue you. That little kid within you, the one with all the dreams and energy, is totally screwed unless you grow the hell up.
You don’t even have to “wake up” per se--even if you choose to remain within the consensual dream of reality, just becoming an “adult” has massive benefits. Awakening begins to happen when you link this state with the “elder” (and with other practices and experiences, of course. One mountain, many paths) And that is another story.
So...I’d love to answer any questions about these pieces of the puzzle, as established. This far along the path, language still works pretty well: we’ve not reached the edge. But the edge lies just over the horizon. Master this piece, and you’ll begin to glimpse it.
A reader who has agreed to try the 30-Day Challenge (and yes, I’m shifting it from 45 Days for a variety of reasons) was glad of a clarification I made, so let me re-state:
The basic “Morning Ritual” is to MOVE for 10-20 minutes every morning. Ideally, an exercise where you can get your blood pumping. At the very least, we’re talking focus, balance, motion, breathing with increasing awareness and power. I use Tai Chi. But yoga, walking, power-walking, running, joint mobility, rebounding, calisthenics, or other approaches are fine. Ideally, you can push yourself, and get out of breath. But you MAY scale it to your level of physical capacity, of course.
WHILE you are moving, you do your incantation. Let’s say you are power-walking for 20 minutes.
1) The first five minutes, chant “Every Day In Every Way I’m Getting Better and Better.” With conviction. Stronger and stronger. Smarter and smarter. Clearer and clearer. Braver and Braver. Whatever YOU need. Voices will come up in your mind, fighting against you. If you push yourself a little harder, between motion and chanting, your brain will shut the voices down if you focus clearly enough.
2) The next five minutes, chant “I am SO grateful for….” and offer gratitude for the good in your life. Start with the “inner circle” of health, clarity, hope. Move outwards to the people you love. From there to your community, country, the world. All the things you have accomplished you are proudest of. Another day of life. FIND THE PLACE INSIDE YOU THAT MEANS IT. No matter how cynical or depressed you are, some tiny percentage of you still believes in possibility. Find it. Dwell there. If you were able to make yourself move, there is hope.
3) The next five minutes, chant “I am SO grateful for…” and this is where you insert your goals. Use the “Secret Formula”: GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS. Want to lose 30 pounds? That’s “I’m SO grateful I’m at my best weight of 130 (or whatever) pounds.” FEEL the truth that you have accomplished many wonderful things, and that this will be another. SEE the action steps you will take: the exercise (heck, you’re already moving!), change your eating patterns, shift your emotions more healthfully. FEEL grateful RIGHT NOW for another day of life and hope. FLOOD yourself with positive emotion, WHILE you walk, rebound, kata, whatever. Feel your mind, emotions, and physical body all aligning toward making THIS DAY PERFECT!!
4) Last Five Minutes: “All I Need Is Within Me Now.” All the strength, hope, courage, intelligence, passion, luck...whatever you need to accomplish your goal of having THIS day be the best of your life.
After you finish? Ideally, you would exercise for another thirty minutes. Or meditate. Or plan. This is your day. Grab it, hold it, love it, use it...and do this seven times, and you have a great week. Do that four times and you have a great month. Do that twelve times and you have a great year…
But lets start by doing this “Morning Ritual” every day for thirty days. If you skip a day, START OVER FROM DAY ONE.
I promise at the end of thirty days, you’ll be a new person.
Own your life, dammit! If you don’t…no one can.
If you have ANY questions about this process, please let me know!
So...who started their 30-Day “Morning Ritual” with enthusiasm and fell off the horse after a day or two?
1) This is predictable, ESPECIALLY IF IT WOULD CHANGE YOU. There is no way to proceed in a straight line toward any substantive change. The “Hero’s Journey” suggests that we will been “evil” and fail as part of the process.
2) What follows is the “Dark night of the soul”. Did you get voices saying “what’s the point” “you blew it, so there’s no use in trying” “you can’t do this”, “this is silly” and so forth? Good. It is VALUABLE to get in touch with those voices. I promise that they have sabotaged more of your plans than you may think.
So...what happened? There is no failure...only results.
We had one reader who took about four days to access her “inner child” aspect, but when she did, it was a magnificent experience for her. That aspect, constructed of the “light” you find within your mental image, represents your true, loving, creative, energetic self, something you may not have contacted for decades. The technique is designed to “wire around” the damage that occurs to us as we move through life. Contact that “child” and you can
1) Provide yourself the love and nurturance you seek from others.
2) Access your creativity and “aliveness” in an astonishing way.
The following factors have been found to damage this connection. If you can think of others, I’d appreciate adding to the list:
1) Child abuse
2) Rape or molestation
3) Parental conflicts or neglect
4) Violation of creative integrity.
5) Bad relationship choices
6) Chronic illness
7) Alcoholism and drug addiction
8) Abandoning childhood dreams
9) Depression and anxiety
The usefulness of separating out these “parts” is enormous. Most of us will be more protective of others, especially children, than we are to ourselves. By visualizing a child self, we can commit to “protecting” and loving it in ways profound and varied.
The whole notion that taking care of yourself is “selfishness” is, in my experience, most often taught by people trying to manipulate your behavior to their own ends. But when you love and care for yourself FIRST, “pay yourself first” emotionally as you should financially and physically, you begin to overflow with love. A healed heart NATURALLY expands. When you see a stunted heart, it is a clear sign that something ugly happened along the way.
People who say “I was never loved and protected” have deleted critical information from their consciousness. NO HUMAN BEING who is old enough to read these words was not loved and protected. Children who are totally denied affectionate contact wither and die. Period.
Dig deep enough, long enough, and you will make contact with the “light” within you. Nurture it as you would a spark, feeding it “tinder” and protecting it from the winds of chance. Slowly build that spark into a blaze. Then...feed it your fears.
Let me repeat the very specific syntax of the Morning Ritual:
1) Physical movement for 10-20 minutes.
2) DURING movement, chant (assuming 20 minutes. Scale to fit your time): 5 minutes “every day in every way I’m getting better and better”, 5 minutes “I’m so grateful for [past and present], 5 minutes “I’m so grateful for” [Goals], and 5 minutes “All I need is within me now”
1) First thing upon awakening, 5-20 minutes heartbeat meditation. IF you’ve mastered this, then: WHILE CONTINUING TO HEAR/FEEL YOUR HEARTBEAT:
2) Visualize light within your body. Condense it into a solid form. See how large and “old” a human figure of solid light you can create.
3) Grow quiet enough to hear it speak to you, if possible.
4) Sink this “human” figure (it could be as small as a single fertilized cell) to the base of your spine. Connect it to your heart with a line of light.
5) “Grow” the line of light up to your brow, and form another image at your “third Eye” or the crown of your head, this one representing your “ancient” self, the elder you will be upon your death-bed.
6) Grow quiet enough to listen to the child and “ancient” selves talking.
Now...once you have really learned this, you can accomplish all of these steps in sixty seconds or so. If you want to go further, IF YOU CAN MAINTAIN CONNECTION WITH YOUR HEATBEAT (Never, ever sacrifice this!) Then you can move into the “Time Line” mode
1) Visualize the “end point” of your goals, on a “line” of light extending from your heart out into the future. If it is a one-year goal, then half-way out , see the six-month goal.. Half way to that, see the three month goal. And so forth, until you see TODAY’S GOALS.
2) “Float up” above the line. Expand and contract it as needed to get the level of “granularity” you need to see details.
3) Develop sensitivity for the following: do you see the intermediate steps? Can you see yourself doing them? Do they “feel” good? Are your beliefs and values in alignment (it will take work, over weeks or months probably, to develop the “symbols” that help you see/feel if you are) Do you have positive emotions connected with all steps? Negative emotions connected with avoidance or procrastination?
If you see what you need to do today that links you with the other intermediate steps leading to your 1-year goals (or 3-year, 5-year, or whatever), you can “float” back into your heart, thank the “child” and “elder” selves (or listen again to what they have to say), contract all light-lines down to a point, and end your meditation.
And now you’re ready for your “morning ritual”. If you have approached this properly, mastering one step before you move on to the next, the entire “meditation” phase takes only 5-20 minutes. Combine this with the “morning ritual” and you have taken only 15-40 minutes of your day. And the effect will be astonishing.
But...one step at a time. Start with the “Ritual” of motion and affirmation and emotion, and then deepen from there.
Softly, softly catchee monkey…
Each of these DIAMOND HOUR pieces, of necessity, will address multiple arenas. It’s that “psychotensegrity” thingie we mentioned a while back--everything connects to everything. So if you commit to five minutes a day (and EVERYONE has five minutes) one of the first things you have to do is disarm the part of your head that says: “I don’t have time.”
When I taught writing at UCLA, one of the things that happened in one class is that the students complained of not having enough time to work. So the next week, I started by asking who had seen X or Y television show, discussing them in turns of character, plot, and so forth. Once I had engaged everyone in the room, I reminded them that every single one had confessed to watching at least seven hours of television a week. And that if they had seven hours, they had enough time to execute their projects. The average person watches MUCH more than an hour a day. You have time.
If not, that’s your first goal--to find yourself an hour a day to invest in personal development. You owe yourself that much. And your first step is that first five minutes. By breathing for sixty seconds five times a day (the “five minute miracle”) you begin the process of converting stress from strain to motivating force.
Here are some things do do during that first five minutes (and don’t even TRY to tell me you don’t have five minutes, if you had the time to read this. That is simply a lie.)
So...WHILE YOU ARE BREATHING DEEPLY for sixty seconds...
1) Identify the three most important things to accomplish today.
2) Identify three reasons to accomplish each of them.
3) Imagine three people or causes OUTSIDE YOURSELF you will benefit by accomplishing these things.
4) Identify three new resources you can investigate to help you.
5) Three people you can contact to brainstorm more efficient ways of accomplishing your intents.
6) Visualize your “end state” in your primary goals in body, career, and relationships.
7) Imagine three times you succeeded in the past, and fully associate with them.
8) Three reasons to have faith you can and should do this.
9) Three ways you motivated yourself in the past to do things that weren’t intrinsically “fun.”
10) Three ways you are in alignment with BOTH your childhood dreams and deathbed values.
Write down your results. Review your previous day’s notes. Walk the Thousand Mile Road.
Frankly, I think Joss Wheden’s “Avengers” is as re-watchable as “Star Wars”. His orchestration of these iconic characters was simply superb. It is easy to forget how easily it could have turned into puree of bat guano, and instead, was as pure an evocation of the experience of being 12 years old and reading a Marvel Comics Annual as I can imagine. What a gift!
The “Lifewriting” principle is simple: to treat your life as if it is a story that you are writing. This enables you to gain perspective, take life less seriously, and transfer conceptual/creative tools from one arena to another. Also, because the “Hero’s Journey” contains a syntax of action and thought that can be applied to story, the process of writing story, and life itself, it is a lovely way to simplify life if you are a writer: a writing structure that can structure your life!
When the creator of a massively popular and successful film shares his hints on how to create scripts, there is a wonderful opportunity: to apply Musashi’s “Know the Ways of All Professions” principle and see how said thoughts apply across the board. Let’s apply Wheden’s 10 principles, and see how they work, shall we?
1. FINISH IT
“Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.”
Yeah. Finish “it”. Do it, even if your first draft, or first effort is imperfect.
1) Body. Finish your written plan to transform, heal, and nurture your body. There will NEVER be a “perfect” diet or exercise program that works for everyone, that all the “experts” will agree on. Ultimately, you will be responsible for selecting and testing your theories and practices. And you will have to live with the results. But get started, notice your results, keep your eyes on the goal, keep studying people who have gotten better results from you. Finish the week’s workouts and eating patterns. Record your results. Polish, polish, polish.
2) Career. Finish your plans to align your career and your core values. Finish your daily tasks: do all you can do, every day, to move toward your goals, and the years take care of themselves. Finish designing your “Secret Formula” plan. Finish reading that book: you need to be constantly learning new techniques and principles. The “gods” in any profession are often considered “intuitive geniuses” by those who are outsiders. The more knowledgable you are about ANY field, the more you see the actual work and sacrifice involved. Finish your 10,000 hours. If you aren’t willing, find something you ARE willing to spend 10,000 hours on. Those hours will pass, whether you have invested them, or wasted them. It’s up to you.
3) Relationships. Finish your daily meditations, even if they are imperfect. Finish your “Soulmate” pattern, clearly defining what your heart seeks in a partner. Finish getting your initial feedback from the closest examples you can find: don’t let your fear of hearing bad news stop you. Actually ask for dates outside your comfort zone. Clarify your perceptions. Deal with your fear and blame and resentment that the opposite gender makes demands of potential partners--just like you do. And they probably aren’t the same demands you make...but that doesn’t mean they are any less reasonable. Understand the foibles of humanity without placing yourself above them, or having the irrational reaction that if we aren’t BETTER than animals we must be LESS. Jeeze, that tweaks me.
4) Finances. Finish your basic financial plan. Balancing your checkbook weekly. Actually establish a percentage of EVERY DOLLAR YOU EARN that you will put into an untouchable account BEFORE you pay your bills. And watch the results you get. It will be murderously hard to do this, harder than establishing a pattern of exercising BEFORE you eat breakfast, doing your 1000 words first thing in the morning, or loving yourself as a primary position. We are trained to take care of others first. Programmed to do the imperative rather than the generative. If you don’t break those habits, you’ll be hanging on by your fingernails all your life.
Finish it. Do it. Make the commitment. Then polish, tinker, research, redo, compare, consult, create, and repair. Do it. Perfectionism is procrastination masquerading as quality control.
Do it, damn it.
DIAMOND HOUR, "SECRET FORMULA" AND ENERGY
Every day I get requests to dive more
deeply into the “Diamond Hour”
concept--the universe seems
to be nudging me in that direction.
More requests for it, more
sign-ups for that list. Probably
more need to solidify my own
practices, rooting them more
deeply. The question is how
to approach it.
Well, I’m going to take a
meta-position on this. I’m
going to use my own “Diamond
Hour” to create this new course,
sharing the pieces of it as I go.
So I woke up this morning at
5:30, fifteen minutes and
meditated. (Ancient Child and
Heartbeat). Up, made myself
a cup of tea and checked my
email and FB messages.
Re-wrote my core goals, a
statement of Faith (why I
believe I can and should
achieve them), the action
steps today, and what I am
Then took a look at what
I’ve been asked (or otherwise
moved) to look at in terms of DH:
Time management, create,
and community. Balancing
creative and financially
rewarding work, time
getting adequate rest,
goal setting, study,
Wow. A lot of different
things, and I want to
simplify them before I dive in.
1) you have balanced goals (Body, Mind/career, relationships), the unfoldment of which will benefit not just you, but the world as a whole
2) your beliefs support their achievement,
3) you know the steps you need to take and have at least three different routes to achievement that do NOT require “luck” or someone coming to save you. Tactics and strategies and
4) You are focused on all you have to be grateful for RIGHT NOW.
Have those things? Yes, I could go more deeply into any one of those categories (and will) but want to be broad right now. If we assume you have these things, what else do you need?
Well, on a very general sense, you need ENERGY. Energy to move forward, to pick yourself back up after you have fallen down (and you will), to change habit patterns (behavioral modification) , change your mood, and even to help motivate the people around you.
Remember: this is a dynamic sphere. I see and feel it but cannot pretend to “understand” it. But I’m going to try to pick at the loose threads and see what we can unravel and comprehend...an hour at a time.
If we generally separate the “Diamond Hour” into three chunks of ten-thirty minutes each for an investment of about 30-90 minutes a day, we’re starting to bring this into focus. The first step is to invest five minutes a day. This “Five Minute Miracle” is the gateway to all that follows. Let’s emphasize energy, and see what we can accomplish in five minutes a day:
Five Minute Miracle plus Increasing Energy.
Five sixty-second “breathing breaks”, one every couple of hours. The “Secret Formula” plus “Increasing energy” is our goal. This is assuming that you have ONLY five minutes a day. O.K….wow. What can you do..?
1) First breathing break. Re-write your goals. Quickly. Top three. Split your attention so that you are breathing deeply and slowly as you do. Visualize your goals and FEEL what you will gain from achieving them as you do.
2) Write your reasons for believing you can and SHOULD achieve your goals. Again, keep it very short, and split attention so that you are breathing. This time emphasize your posture. While writing, you should sit as if suspended by a string hovering over your head. Be a marionette.
3) Write your top three actions that must be done TODAY and TOMORROW to accomplish your goals. No begging, pleading, or luck. What can YOU do. If you are in sales, remember that sales is a transfer of enthusiasm, and aligning your needs with those of your client. What are you going to do for THEM? You don’t sell vacuum cleaners--you sell clean homes, and healthy families. You get what you want when you help someone else get what THEY need. Breathe. Concentrate on the EXHALATION. Then relax. EXHALE. Then relax.
4) Write out your reasons for feeling GRATEFUL for another day of life, another opportunity to help the people you love, to serve your community, for being strong and sane and healthy. For being able to BREATHE without equipment.
5) Joint mobility drills, allowing the compressions and releases to create your breathing. Energy is created by the interaction of diet, rest, exercise, and focus. Again, you could study each of these for a year, but just being aware of basic principles, you are cheating yourself out of your life. Some fast thoughts:
1) Eat today for how you want to feel tomorrow, and to recover from yesterday’s stress.
2) If you get less than eight hours of sleep a night, and are fatigued, look no further for a MAJOR leak.
3) If you exercise less than two hours a week, you are VASTLY out of alignment with what your laziest ancestors could possibly have managed to survive. Look no further for a MAJOR leak.
4)If you don’t know the WHAT, HOW, and WHY of how you will use your energy to feed into the “Secret Formula”--how you will use it to create your dreams and support the people you love...you have another MAJOR leak. You may actually not have permission to be healthy! One of the most frightening things I’ve ever heard as a coach is that someone is worried that “if I have more energy, people will just want more from me, so why bother?”
These suggestions are both global and specific. I can’t be broad without asking more questions than I can answer, and can’t be specific without leaving out giant areas of importance. But I’m hoping that by moving between several different models but anchoring the discussions in a few simple concepts, I can both remind myself of what I know...and share with all of you. This is the first step.
“SECRET FORMULA” 4-13-14
All right, the last basic piece of the puzzle (we’ll discuss minor or supplemental pieces soon).
GOAL X FAITH X CONSTANT ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS
Gratitude is the one that kicked my butt in Atlanta. How am I supposed to be happy about something causing me so much pain? I could see the trap: while it is possible to power yourself with negative emotions (fear, anger, hate) that is a different path. “The Dark Side of the Force.” I don’t deny that it works, but that was not, at all, what was being discussed in Wattle’s book.
Not “THE” path, but certainly “A” path, and the one that called to me. Even if I could find things to be grateful for in this instance, could I apply this across the board? Can a person be grateful in ANY situation?
This is going to be a delicate one, but I’m going to mention it anyway. One of the great teachers of my life was a woman named Dawn Callan, teacher of a fabulous self-defense/empowerment workshop called “Awaken The Warrior Within.” In two days, Dawn could teach women more about self defense than most instructors can in two years. She did this with a combination of simple techniques drilled endlessly for two days at high intensity, combined with spiritual therapy-group style introspection and sharing. Then, at the end, you practice your skils against a padded attacker, in a combat exercise that has to be experienced to be believed. INTENSE. Breakthrough stuff.
I watched hundreds of women go through this process, including some who had been raped or abused. And they came out the other side with a sense of power and possibility that was astounding. Dawn was, in the space of that workshop, an avatar of power and responsibility and pure Goddess energy, fierce as Kali. About five two on the outside, and seven feet tall on the inside. Amazing woman. I asked her what was the hardest thing she had to face in helping these women (and later, men) through this challenge.
And what she said blew my mind. With a woman who had been raped, her greatest challenge was getting her to take responsibility for what had happened. What? What the hell?
She was very precise in her language. “Responsibility.” Not guilt, blame, or shame. Response-ability. The ability to respond. Without that, she believed, you were a victim forever. Taking responsibility for what HAD happened opened the door to taking responsibility for your future actions and behaviors and encounters.
With that, you tap into your deeper perceptions, intuition, and pure animal survival drives from a spiritual perspective. Without that, all you can do is plead for help or mercy. And that was most definitely NOT where Dawn was coming from.
And it was difficult, because the natural tendency IS to confuse “responsibility” with guilt, blame and shame. But if you remove those emotions, what have you?
Commitment. A sense that, even if you cannot always see or understand the pattern, you have agency. But...but...how can you embrace a philosophy like that? What of abused children? What of people born into unbelievabl poverty? What of people born with childhood diseases? Can you ask them to take “responsibility” for any of that?
You cannot demand it, no. And it is totally understandable that saying this can be uncomfortable. Even worse (much worse) some people use such a philosophy to justify cruelty or neglect. “Why, they chose that miserable state…”
What the hell, indeed. And Dawn, a woman of titanic, ruthles compassion, understood that. So she would NEVER ask people to accept such a position until she had shifted their emotions to a powerful state in which they could view their lived out of the “victim” mindset.
This is a tightrope. Huge. But every woman I saw cross it found something that she thought she had lost: a sense of power in her life. She could not change what had happened, but by God, she could take every ounce of that pain and turn it into motivation. Strength. Resolve. She could define what had happened to her as the trigger to turn her into a tiger committed to protecting ALL women, ALL children, and that she was willing to die before losing her commitment.
Taking power like that, as hard as it clearly was, opened the door to a kind of power and clarity that was...unique. Never seen anything like it.
And if hundreds of women could do THAT, what was I being asked to do? To find a way to be grateful in the midst of pain. Was there a way? Could I even imagine looking back ten years from now and seeing ANYTHING to be happy about?
Well...sure. Maybe .01% possibility, but…
And if that was true, if there was only a single cold star in a bleak, black night sky, didn’t it behoove me to concentrate on that star, if doing so brought joy to my life, and that joy made me a better husband and father...and writer...and coach...and then made me a more attractive, dynamic person, drawing in allies and opportunities...which then could lead to me getting out of Atlanta and back to L.A.?
I could see the line of causality. I could “grasp” it. Could see how something analogous had worked in other circumstances. Had had the people I trust most in the world tell me, every one of them, that I had to find joy, peace, happiness...GRATITUDE...where I was, when I was, or I was on the wrong path.
I could have my pain and anger and despair...or I could have my life. I just had to step away from the damage, not define myself by my ego trainwreck. I was not “that.” My life was not defined by “that.” I had agency. Had made choices. Could MAKE choices...if not in what had already happened, certainly in my interpretation: what does it mean? Who am I? What is true?
And if I could line that up so that every event was empowering, even the negative ones...if for no othr reason than I HAD LEARNED THE LESSON AND SURVIVED...then everything that had ever happened to me in my life could be an empowerment. A doorway. A bridge. A motivator.
Every enemy an ally. Every happenstance a miracle. Every day of my life a building block to the man I am today. And if I love that man...I must be grateful for all of it. To all of THEM.
Forgiveness is not a gift to your enemies. It does not mean forgetting, or allowing them to hurt you again. It is a way to unburden your heart.
If you learn the lesson, you can release the pain and fear. And what remains...is love.
And gratitude. For another day of life. For a strong, healthy body. For the people who love and trust me. For Jason, and Nicki, and my beautiful, brilliant wife. For the chance to help one more person by embracing the truth of my own existence.
And the only cost for this lightness of being is giving up the need to be right. And the fear that if I don’t dump my negative emotions and fear onto others, it will rebound upon me.
Could I be that strong? Could I? Well...if I was committed to being the man I’m committed to being, yes. If I am to be the father and husband I am committed to being, yes. The role model I’m committed to being. The friend. The writer. The coach.
It made sense, even if I couldn’t quite attain it. So I did what I have done before: I made it a prayer. To God, to my own Higher Self--you decide. I don’t care.
“God,” I said. “I’m going to give up my anger. I’m going to take the leap. I can’t see what is in front of me, it’s a leap into a fog bank. All I ask is that you either catch me, or, if there are rocks down there...let me hit them before I see them.”
And I jumped, into a world of love, and acceptance, and...gratitude.
GOALS X FAITH X CONSTANT ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS
“In every job that’s to be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun and poof! The job’s a game!”--M. Poppins.
The third part of this deceptively simple formula is “constant action.” In truth, this is the major flaw I see in people who practice “The Secret.” The ones who fail, without exception thought that wanting something, visualizing it or chanting goals would produce a miracle.
No. YOU are the miracle. A farmer cannot pray over a field that has not been ploughed and planted, and expect wheat. Even if he does everything right, a tornado can tear up his field, the locusts may come, the rain may withhold its blessing. And he will have to dry his tears, stifle his curses, pull up his big-boy pants and try again. That’s the biz.
There are no guarantees of success. But there ARE guarantees of failure. Taking no action, or insufficient action, is one of them. Let’s put it another way: if your goals aren’t exciting and motivating enough to get you off the couch, off your butt, and hitting it hard morning til night, what the #$%% makes you think they’re strong enough to make the Universe respond?
The bad news is that that Universe doesn’t care. At this very moment, wolves are ripping rabbits to pieces in woods all over the world...and all is well.
The good news is that the Universe doesn’t care. It isn’t going to go out of its way to stop you from getting what you want. In fact, with bizarre consistency, those who arrange their lives so that they don’t NEED luck (it’s nice not to have “bad” luck, but “good” luck isn’t necessary) are the ones who get stupendously lucky.
When you don’t have a job, you can’t get a job, until you’ve got a job, and then everybody offers you work. When you don’t have a lover, you can’t get one, until you’ve got one, and then your phone starts ringing. When you’re broke, you can’t get a loan, until you’ve got money, at which point everyone wants to extend credit.
It is perverse. Get over it--it’s just the way it works.
So define your daily activities so that, if you work your butt off, you can accomplish steps that will lead you to your goal. Set it up so you need no “luck”, and ask for no “help” from others you are not willing to make fair trade for. Re-write and clarify your goals and motivations until you associate GREAT pleasure with accomplishing them, and REAL pain to failing to act.
Seek flow in your daily actions, so that you gain pleasure FROM YOUR DAILY WORK, rather than when you reach that distant goal. Right here, right now, pleasure. Every day. Every moment. THIS IS YOUR LIFE. If you postpone pleasure, you might get hit by a car on your way across the street to cash that check. And won’t you feel a fool, lying there realizing you put off your life, and now it’s over? But if you apply your intelligence you will find ways to take joy in every moment of the work, either for its own sake, or because you are learning and growing, or contributing to others.
ENJOY YOUR LIFE NOW. Bring 100% of what you have, every day, to the blissful effort of going deeper into your two questions: “who am I?” and “what is true?”
Every day. Divide your long-term goals into pieces, and fulfill 1% every week. How do you eat an elephant? One forkful at a time.
Every day. Constant action. The person who makes ten times as many mistakes as you do, AND LEARNS FROM EVERY ONE, AND SEEKS NEVER TO REPEAT AN ERROR, will out-perform you so fast it will make your head spin.
You don’t have to whistle while you work, but you do have to work. And it is then, when you have a clear goal, faith in your efforts, and are totally flowing with constant focused effort…
That is when the gremlins who mess up other people’s plans start saying: “damn! This girl is serious! Let’s go mess with someone with less grit.”
And people will start saying: “wow! He’s lucky.”
And you will laugh at them, and cry for them, just a little. And continue down your road. And it is often a lonely road. Most people think that magic is something outside themselves, something they can call on.
No. Magic is something you embody, or it is nothing at all.
The Secret Formula 4/11
Goals X Faith X Action X Gratitude = Results
The term “Faith” is used in two different senses
1) the belief that your goal is POSSIBLE and APPROPRIATE, and that your efforts will bring you more pleasure and decrease pain.
2) The belief that you have greater resources than those contained within your ego-self.
Both are critical, for different reasons. I don’t believe in lazy people (in the sense of “he’s too lazy to get a job/exercise/etc). I believe in people without motivating goals (there’s nothing I’d get out of doing that), conflicting values that paralyze, or conflicting beliefs that say the goal is out of reach, or toxic, or wrong in some way. Or, they believe that the attempt to reach the goal will cause more pain than pleasure. IF you can clearly see and feel the positive value of the action, if it matches your self-image, if you have an efficient and effective plan to reach it YOU BELIEVE IN, and you associate pleasure with doing it and pain with NOT doing it? I think you’d be doing it. And have never seen an exception to this. Ever.
The second interpretation of “Faith” is more standard. In the Hero’s Journey, the way through the “Dark Night of the Soul” is called the “Leap of Faith”. The “Dark Night” is just the moment at which it feels that all of your skills and strengths and resources are insufficient to reach your goal. You have reached ego-limit.
“Faith” here relates to one of three things:
1) Faith in Self. In other words, even though you have “emptied yourself out” you trust that you can grow, or have hidden strengths, or that Tomorrow Is Another Day. You look back over your life and see countless times you saw no way to succeed, felt exhausted and depressed...and succeeded anyway. You will fight to the last drop of blood. People like that are VERY hard to stop.
2) Faith in Companions. The only known way to compensate for lack of ability is the Mastermind. Friends, family, co-workers, coaches, etc. You trust that you are part of a team, and that they will be there to catch you when you fall.
3) Faith in a Higher Power. Typically, this is belief in a benevolent God. But it could also be a sense that the universe “makes sense”. Or that there are patterns of action in nature that reward the positive. Or the rhythms of life can be sensed like a surfer understands tides and waves. “For every thing there is a time.” It doesn’t matter.
You may have noticed that a disproportionate percentage of high-performing, champion folks, when interviewed, will attribute their success to something other than themselves. They thank their coaches, families, teammates. They “did it” for their dying mother, their country, or school. They “know” that they could never have done it but for answered prayers.
Whatever you may think about the arena of Faith, it seems a very, very powerful ally in accessing deep wells of skill and energy and courage when all seems lost. And if you can find something to believe in that is bigger and deeper than your ordinary sense of self, you too will be able to keep going through the “Dark Nights”. And the combined wisdom of all world cultures suggests that on the other side of the “Leap of Faith”...is everything you’ve ever wanted, needed, or deserved.
“Secret Formula” 4/9/14
GOALS X FAITH X CONSTANT ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS
If we apply this to those fortunate few who just seem to “zen” their way through life, I’d suspect that they are people who have these principles at the level of “unconscious competance.” They just wake up, chop wood, carry water, and are following their bliss. But in some way either through natural inclination or careful training earlier in life, they align these factors to produce a constant stream of happy occurance.
Let’s take a look at the first piece: GOALS.
We could call this “intent”, “preference”, “outcome” “destination” or whatever, but I’ve never met a successful person who didn’t have some vision of what they wanted to accomplish. The most advanced had no “technical” sense of it, but just followed their feelings and somehow ended up with fantastic results. Again, the theory is that these people are integrated at a phenomenally deep level, and we can learn much by studying them from this perspective.
There are different ways to view goals. For instance “SMART”:
Specific: you know what you want, EXACTLY what you want. Most people don’t--they only know what they “don’t” want. That’s the “don’t think of a purple cow” paradox. Remember that money doesn’t come in denominations of “enough.”
Meaningful. You are doing it for YOUR own motivations. It must decrease pain and increase pleasure FOR YOU, not someone outside you.
As-If Now. You must visualize/feel yourself having it NOW, be able to “step into” the picture so that you can feel if anything chaffs.
Realistic. If anyone else has ever accomplished what you hope to do (especially if they began where you are beginning), it is “realistic.” You may have to adjust your vision: “you can accomplish anything you want, if you can just let go of how it’s supposed to look.” You may not be able to grow wings and fly (childhood ambition) but you can hang-glide, pilot, parachute, study birds, fly kites, hot air balloon--any number of things that satisfy the drive for freedom, exhilaration, grace in motion, and so forth.
Time-Bound. A goal is a dream with a deadline. When will you accomplish it? What is your five-year plan? Three years? One year? Six months? Three months? One month? What must you do TODAY?
I could do a week-long workshop just on this subject, but it will get you going.
The Cold Hard "Math" of it all by Steven Barnes
I am convinced that if there is a conflict between emotional needs/filters and intellectual/objective reality, the capacity to perceive objective reality suffers. The mechanism would seem to be complicating the subject until there is no longer an objective measurement available to the “common sense” part of the personality. Oh, right...it’s all too complicated to figure out…
I know that in each of the major arenas, there are very simple (or relatively simple) measures that people who struggle in those arenas often seem to have a difficult time accepting. These ideas are the bedrock of mastering the “dream” of consensus reality, and any concept of awakening roots quite strongly within them. Without them, you risk mistaking delusion for “spiritual advancement.”
If you accept the following ideas, which range from the emotional/spiritual (difficult to quantify) to the bedrock of physics and mathematics, my approach to reality will work for you. If you don’t, it won’t. And I would suggest you simply consider me deluded. Seriously.
Pretty simple. Ultimately, we can’t be certain of what reality is: we may, after all, be nothing but brains in boxes. But the following notions seem to be internally and externally consistent enough to explain so much of our lives that I find it FAR more useful to accept than reject them.
By the way: I’ve never met a human being who did not struggle in at least one of these areas. Never. NOT A SINGLE ONE, myself most certainly included. This is tough, ugly stuff. We go from the most emotional/least objective to the most mathematical/most capable of individual control.
1) Relationships. The “Beauty-Power” access. The more power a woman desires in a potential mate, the more beauty (however that is measured in her cultural niche) she has to trade for it. The more beauty a man desires in a potential mate, the more power (however that is measured in his cultural niche) he has to trade for it.
Application: not interested in the people who are attracted to you? Change your standards: either for the people you are willing to accept, or your own behaviors affecting power and beauty. If you don’t, it is a recipe for pain.
2) Balancing the budget. If you spend more money than you make, you go into debt. You have to control both ends of the money equation, or you are screwed. Period. If you find yourself reluctant to balance your checkbook, you are probably dealing with pain and delusion in this arena. (While this is math, we often have little direct control on exactly when and how we are pain. The time lag between cause and effect can be devastating. If your career does not position you close to the “money flow” or if excellence does not correlate to amount of remuneration, you will have to employ creative thinking, big time. And you will have to be ruthless about demanding that the world pay you what you earn...or moving to another arena where you can do so.)
Application: sick of your current financial situation? Bring in more money and spend less. Whatever you do, however you have to do it, no one has ever changed their finances in any other way than changing the balance of this equation.
And the most basic arena, the one that requires the least cooperation from other human beings (and if you grasp the difficulty people have here in this arena, the problems in the others become clearer thereby:)
3) If you take in fewer calories than you burn up, you lose weight. Sure, “not all calories are equal.” Sure, emotional, social, physiological, metabolic, and other factors make things harder. There is no “moral” dimension to the struggle. Weight is not directly correlative to health. I don’t believe in “lazy” people. Health, and injury can make it terrible. Social pressures are ghastly. Yes, you can eat and exercise exactly as you did twenty years ago, or before you had that baby or changed that job, and gain weight. No, it isn’t fair that your friend/neighbor/sister can eat the exact way you do, and still stay skinny. Yes, it takes seven hours of jogging to burn a single pound of fat. NO I’M NOT SAYING IT IS EASY. Sure, if you eat healthier food, you may want to eat less of it, leading to a better physical situation. All of these things are true. But it is also true that if you take in fewer calories than you burn up...you lose weight. No exceptions (I’ve actually had people say bizarre things like: “what if you eat rocks? Rocks have no calories, but you’ll be heavier…” Can you see the massive avoidance involved in saying something like this?). All of these things are true. But if you try to avoid the reality of the first sentence in this paragraph, you will get lost in a vast, twisty maze of exercise theories, conflicting opinions about nature and nurture, fad diets, and more. All your roads have to lead to this one reality, OR YOUR EFFORTS WILL NOT WORK. There is not an animal on this planet whose body disobeys the laws of physics.
Application: find some way to change the balance of the calories you take in and burn up. Usually, the answer lies in better knowledge, changed behaviors and healed emotions. Even bariatric surgery just seeks to limit intake. Everyone who has ever lost weight has found a way to change this balance.
No, I’m not saying these things are easy. The tangle of damaged emotions around these three issues are killer. The cavalcade of people and opinions that will distract you from the simplest realities here are legion. The support for infinite complexity (it’s just too complicated to understand!) are endless.
But if...and I mean IF, you can accept these three ideas, you gain a way to look at your own concepts, your reality map, your beliefs and emotions and actions that will teach you things about yourself most people don’t want to know. If you accept responsibility in all three arenas at the same time, you have “safety rails” around the most critical aspects of your life, and you will be able to push HARD without damaging yourself, and in the process make real, generative progress toward self-knowledge.
In each of these three the reality is simple. NOT “EASY”, “SIMPLE”. If you want to be happy, either change your standards, or change your behaviors, whatever it takes. If you have a wound in one of these three arenas? Hey, join the human race: you’re like the rest of us. Take a deep breath and re-adjust your grip on the wheel.
But if you have wounds in two or (God forbid!) all three? You are in trouble. You are careening down a mountain road, asleep, your inner child screaming in the back-seat for you to WAKE UP, DAMMIT!
Or...you can simply believe it is all just too complicated. I say it is killingly simple...but HARD and often PAINFUL. There is a difference.
If you have flaws in one of these three arenas, get FOCUS AND FLOW and the 101 PROGRAM and watch your efficiency, effectiveness and balance increase!
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