Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjpacres/
I rarely share client stories, but a recent experience is birthing a whole new way of working for me. I just finished a 30-day writing experiment with a physician client who is just starting out on a brand new path. Having already found the courage to leave his medical practice and head into the open space of the unknown, we worked on rekindling a secret dream he's held for a long time, maybe his whole life: writing.
He always wanted to try writing, but never did because he had a belief it was too impractical and was no way to make a living. Yet he knew he had stories to share, and ones that would help others if he did.
I wanted to hear these stories myself. I was curious what touched him so deeply about his experiences in medicine. I knew that in hearing these stories, we could both experience a healing journey.
So I came up with this idea, which I had never done with a client before: a writing experiment. The assignment was to write daily for ten minutes a day, thirty days in a row. Then send that writing to me, which I read every day. Mostly we let the process run itself, but we had two phone conversations during the month, once to check in and then again to review the entire process.
I knew that a small, daily commitment done over a sustained period of time would lead to something. A new habit at the very least. An awakened sense of hope and creativity I envisioned as possible.
What I didn't expect was the vast territory we would cover in those ten minutes of daily writing each day. Not only did I learn from my client's deep minings that occurred from this type of reflection, but I heard accounts of key moments, important feelings, and long-held beliefs that it might have taken months to get to with traditional weekly phone coaching calls. In timed writing, you get to the heart of the matter quickly. You can try to dance around, squirm a bit, but the hand keeps moving and the clock keeps ticking, and something gets said that has juice to it, even if at the very end.
And when you have a curious, compassionate witness, who wants to hear more, and will ask you questions and deliver you the next prompt to inspire more writing, it unfolds with surprising beauty. Continue reading →
Photo of a journal I own. Illustration by Tad Carpenter
We walk in silence along a narrow path that takes us into the shade of a eucalyptus grove. We are flanked by these giants, stretching upwards infinitely, only the birds knowing the space above them. We walk with our intentions softly carried in our attention, as we listen to the birds, feel the breeze, and notice our feet, one in front of the other, walking the path.
Then, we reach a clearing. The trees step back, and stretch up the sides of the hill around us, forming a bowl. A container of energy. On the ground, a labyrinth. Here we sit on the grassy clearing and experience the infinite potential rising in every direction, encircling us.
This is where we meet to explore our own connection to the Field of Infinite Potential, or as Pam Grout abbreviates it, “the FP”. We meet to share our excitement, our discoveries, our observations as we enter into the nine experiments outlined in the book, E-Squared: Nine Do-it-yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality. The invitation of these experiments is to use our own daily life, our own powers of observation and attention, to capture moments when we tangibly feel our connection to the FP. When we are plugged in to what is available to us at all times, but so often obscured by habits of thinking, cultural osmosis, and prior conditioning. Continue reading →
Here’s my definition of true self-confidence. I’m so over the days of being in a classroom and each of us painting our own “version” of what the teacher wants us to paint. We are told that this kind of imitation – producing something that looks “as good as” what we are told is a “masterpiece” – is what we should be striving for. That we should practice for mastery as it is defined by the experts.
I’m interested in the kind of self-confidence that comes from facing the blank page, the open space, the silence, the void. Where there is no map. Only your body, your breath, your instincts, and your wild-eyed awareness. Only by choosing to “go there” – to show up in territory that is uncharted for you – can you experience what I’m talking about here.
For me, it requires venturing outside my zones of mastery and wondering what it’s like to be a novice. I never sang, so I explored what my voice could do with sound. I never painted, so I played with brushes and paper and colors. I bring back the lessons of these experiences to the areas of my life where I may be stagnating in my attachment to being “good at it”.
When was the last time you stood at the edge of your comfort zone, and faced the open space?
When was the last time you took a step into that open space, truly not knowing where it would lead?
Each time you give yourself this kind of opportunity, you discover your relationship with fear, and you have the chance to see and accept yourself as you are. Continue reading →
Last week I had the opportunity to hear from a client who had coached with me for a year about three years ago. I am consciously unattached to outcomes with clients so it hadn't occurred to me to check in about progress. But I'm so glad he did!
Three years ago, Gavin* was "crawling" to work each day at a tech startup job in Silicon Valley that was easy to stay in because of the prestige and pay, but made for sleepless nights knowing he was not listening to his heart. Now he is living abroad, exploring many of his passions from childhood, and happily piecing together a creative life that supports his whole self.
The quote that made me smile the most was, "Life is not better or worse; it just feels more magical."
What would you be willing to do to bring a little more magic into your life? Continue reading →
I’ve been hosting SoulBodyMind Salons in my home, and the most recent session was centered on the theme of “Soul-Care”.
I always start each of the sessions with a story or image that grounds the group in the journey we are about to take that evening. I had easily come up with stories and images for the body and the mind – ones that I had heard from my own teachers as I gathered knowledge in these areas.
But the soul – no one had ever talked to me directly about the soul before. This was the first time I would be attempting to ask the question, “What is the soul?” in front of a group.
I am simply fascinated by the phenomenon of soul, because everyone can relate to the word, although in a totally unique way. It’s a bit like the word "music". Ask anyone from any culture and any time period, "What is music?", and they know what it is. However, listen to the music from any culture and any time period and you will get wildly different experiences and sounds.
I was walking around my house, dusting the wood floor, pushing chairs in different directions, thinking about this question of “What is the soul?” and how I would explain this in a brief introduction, without either getting lost in philosophy or oversimplifying.
Naturally, I picked up the nearest object and began thinking of ways to incorporate it as a visual aid.
That object was a can of tomatoes. Continue reading →
“How you see determines what you see, and what you feel.” – Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with vision boards since the very beginning. My very first one was an assignment for the very first personal development workshop I attended. End of Day One, before we were to break for dinner, we had a few hours to make a board of what makes our heart come alive.
The second one I made was later that year with an ex-boyfriend on a retreat in Santa Cruz. It was my first beach weekend retreat since moving to California five years before. What had taken me so long?
Then I made another one that made me feel like crap, but I didn’t quite know why.
I kept up with vision boards for some reason. Maybe it was my determination to see if they would really work for me in my life. I was a total skeptic in the beginning, going through the motions like a good student, but not truly expecting anything to happen.
After several years of practice, now I know that when I approach them from a certain place within me, vision boards can invite in some real magic into my life.
I haven't yet written about the latest example of how a vision board changed my life, and since I’m leading a vision board workshop next week, this seems like a good time to really tell the story in completeness. Continue reading →
Last year I made a vision board for who I am and how I feel when I express my creativity. I had devoted 2010 to my Core of Peace, and I was setting a new intention for 2011.
I didn't know exactly HOW my creativity would be expressed. But by making the vision board I connected with images and words that captured how I knew it would FEEL to be in that place of expression.
I let go of the HOW, because I didn't - and couldn't - know at the time what the exact steps would be.
I breathed deeply into the feelings of my own creativity, and allowed images to attract me without needing an explanation or a meaning or a concept. They were just images that I loved, for no "reason" at all.
Here is the vision board I made:
I have it as the wallpaper image on my laptop, so every time I open my computer, the images enter my consciousness. Most days, I don't sit and deliberately stare at every image on my screen, but I know they are there.
I haven't thought about that vision board in many months. I have gone about the business of living, of staying in my Core of Peace, of letting some things go, and picking up other things, of planting seeds and watching them grow, all the while noticing that I cannot force growth to happen any faster than it already is.
Last night I looked at it again.
It was with a sense of amazement that I noticed how many of the images had actually come into my reality during 2011. In other words, my visions had come true! Continue reading →
I have this thing about repeating myself. In this Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/e-mail/YouTube day and age, there is no shortage of ways to "get the message out there". I'm never quite sure who is reading what, or when. And frankly, most of it feels like I'm repeating myself. Or scattering seeds into the wind, with no idea where they will land.
I've surrendered to these facts: I will do what I can to keep putting my message out there. People will do what they can to receive the message when they are ready.
And I forgive myself for repeating the message over and over again. Continue reading →
I still feel jealous whenever I see a musician performing onstage. I know, I call myself a “life coach” so I should be more evolved than that. But I’m not. I do know, however, that noticing my feeling of jealousy is a juicy nugget of treasure to show me the thoughts that are keeping me imprisoned. So I start to do the work.
Even now, that I am actually living a life of sharing my music in the world, there is an old, fear-driven part of my brain, which hasn’t quite let go of its hold over my essential self, that is yelling in my ear, "You'll never make it in this world as a musician! It's just too hard to make a living! You'll never be respected! You'll have to work too hard! It'll never be worth it!"
Ever notice that the people who say these things are the ones whose lives have actually proven these beliefs to be true? I haven’t found a successful performing artist who has said, “Forget it. It’s too hard. For all the effort I put in, it’s not worth it.” (On the other hand, for some reason, I've met plenty of doctors who've said this to me.) The reality – the truth - is there are many examples of people whose lives prove these beliefs NOT to be true.
What's the difference between these two groups of people? Is it talent? Is it luck? Is it genetics? Is it a mystery? Continue reading →
Have you ever sought someone's advice, and then realized halfway into the conversation that you really didn't want them to tell you what to do?
Or have you ever followed someone's advice, which never quite felt right to you, but they were in a position of authority or had done it themselves before, and you didn't know how to get out of it?
Have you ever wished you had more trust in yourself, and didn't need to rely so much on advice from other people?
It's been ten years now since I've set foot in a traditional academic institution. Yesterday I stood inside the walls of a venerable one right here in my own backyard.
And it struck me that there is A LOT of "advising" going on at the formative stages of a lot of smart people's lives. A lot of people who are very curious, very bright, very capable, and very imaginative. But who just don't know. So they ask. They seek advice.
And what do they get? Continue reading →