One way to define love is “sustained, compassionate attention”. These words came from John Muir Laws, a naturalist, educator, and artist who inspires stewardship of the land by sharing his practice of nature sketching. When I read these words, I began to see the importance of my own art practice in developing sustained, compassionate attention for myself. I have noticed, in just a few years of deliberately making art daily, that my well of self-compassion has grown wider and deeper. And gradually, my capacity for compassion toward others — even the ones it would be easy to judge or dismiss quickly — has become more of a habit. Continue reading
In the weeks since returning from Boulder, I’ve been spending more time with the idea of the Unique Self teaching of Marc Gafni and the Center for Integral Wisdom. For me it was deeply integrating to hear a story that finally enabled me to bring together both the parts of me I had discovered and cultivated during the last five years – namely, wordless presence, connection with the Oneness, and recognition of egoless identity – and the parts of myself I had “divorced” from – namely, the rules of classical training, the linear reductionist thinking of mechanical science, and the ignoring of subjective experience.
How refreshing to hear someone say, “You can’t meditate your ego away. You can’t meditate your story away.” This was part of my experience as a meditation practitioner! I wanted to put certain chapters in the past, as “the way I used to be”, believing that in order to become who I knew myself to be – both creative and spiritual – I needed to forget who I once was. No matter how many relationships I walked away from, no matter how many new practices I adopted, no matter how many new communities I joined, I could not completely ignore my prior experience and stories, and the curiosity I felt about bringing my new learning back to my old communities. I could not pretend they were not in me. Oh, I tried. But I never felt complete in my expression, or full in my generosity of sharing. It was as if there were problems I knew existed, in distant parts of the world, that I was deliberately ignoring for the sake of elevating myself beyond them, transcending them by trying not to pay attention to them anymore. I kept my eyes forward, visioning my ideal life over and over again. And still I felt there was a connection I was not making.
The image of my Unique Self “plugging in” to the infinite mesh of the One via a radically unique shape – not just a generic plug into a generic outlet, but a unique contour fitting in like a puzzle piece perfectly matching in every subtle turn of form – is supporting me to integrate all of my stories, all of my prior and current experiences, and to show up as me. I am now opening my vision to include all the parts of me I would rather hide and avoid, the parts I would rather not have you see, AND embracing my brilliance and light and infinite creativity at a level previously unrecognized….not as opposing sides of a coin, but as different and equally essential points on the same sphere of my wholeness.
So what makes YOU unique? What are the points that constitute the unique shape of your piece of the mighty jigsaw puzzle of all that is?
The invitation of our times is to hold this paradox: what you think you are is not who you really are, and exactly who you are is all you need to be.
When you show up as all of exactly who you are, you heal, transform, and create a world in the way that only you can.
When I was a senior in high school applying to college, I remember one university had as its essay question, “What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?”. I remember considering not applying to that school because I couldn’t think of a failure to write about.
At the time, I was on the receiving end of a lot of attention and praise for never having failed (publicly at least). But now as an adult, I know the trap of living a life based on avoidance of failure. It’s no success to have reached all the goals that have been set for you, to have checked all the boxes other people have laid out as important for you, and then to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. Or to have your body screaming in pain or exhaustion.
Having been there and done that, I have rediscovered the vital importance of failure. Not “achieving” failure as an identity, but being willing to fail. I gave a workshop on Friday to a group of engineers, coaches, consultants, startup founders, and other change agents interested in how groups of people grow and learn. It was based entirely around sound, voice, and music improvisation – in other words, the most common fears of about ninety-nine percent of the population.
The name of the workshop was, “Play the Wrong Note: Daring Adventures in Learning, Failure, and Creativity“. The title actually refers to a specific moment in my life when everything changed for me. Those four words – “Play the wrong note” – were the four most compassionate words ever spoken to me by a teacher. No one in a position of authority had ever said, “Lisa, I want to see you break the rules. And I’ll help you.” It turned out to be the most loving instructions I ever received, and the framework for an entire body of work. Continue reading
When we let go of judgment, everything is possible.
Experience a whole new way of writing, which combines meditative flow, nonjudgmental presence, and the opportunity for greater self-understanding. Combined with compassionate witnessing without expectation of praise or criticism, this experience awakens your creativity and expands the possibilities for your life and your writing.
Develop and nurture a new habit of daily writing that will set you free, whether you are a seasoned or beginning writer.
This individualized, one-on-one mentoring program is not about the craft or product of writing, but about discovering what flows through you onto the page when you are free of concepts about what writing has to be.
- Begin to experience moving beyond rules and agendas; creating in spite of doubts, worries, and concerns
- Sharing work that is not “perfect”; practicing trust in what flows from your own hand
- Experiencing the safety of knowing there is no grading, no critiquing, no editing, no comparing; only witnessing without judgment
- Exploring a new process for initiating creative flow
- Exploring what happens when your pen begins to move and you have a non-critical, supportive audience
- Decide on a time of day that you can consistently set aside for your writing (e.g., first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, lunchtime…whatever works)
- Have a separate notebook or a folder in your computer for this writing only
- Set a timer for 10 minutes
- When the timer starts, your hand begins to move across the page (or type, if you’re using a keyboard). You don’t stop, you don’t edit, you don’t reread what you wrote. You “lose control” for those 10 minutes.
- When the timer stops, your writing stops.
- If your flow is strong, you can continue on a different page for as long as you want. But for the PRACTICE, it is important to have a container for your 10 minutes of writing, and to acknowledge yourself for doing that 10 minutes each day that you do it.
- Do not read your writing immediately. At this point, you send it to me. I will read everything you send, but I will respond in writing only once a week.
- The nature of my responses will be sharing my experience as a human being receiving your stories, images, and process. I will let you know what I am curious about, and what I want to hear more of. My responses will NOT be edits, critiques on how you might improve, or suggestions for how to publish your work.
- In our phone conversations, we will discuss your process, what you are discovering, and anything else that comes up.
Ah, there’s that. The magic comes from both of us being fully present in this commitment together. When I read something you’ve written, it may inspire something in me that I want to share – a story, a quote, something I’ve experienced and learned from. I am free to share that with you during this process, at the right time for you. And this timing makes all the difference in the world, I believe. You can read stacks and stacks of books, go through programs filled with great wisdom, and attend workshops and retreats from the best teachers, but knowing when to apply the right lesson for you is the art of it all.
This process facilitates the art of being present, and all the creative flow that comes from that presence. And that applies to both of us.
- A daily, 10-minute writing practice for 30 days
- Weekly written responses from me (never an auto responder, always individualized)
- One-on-one mentoring and individualized feedback:
- One 20-minute phone check-in after the first week
- One 50-minute phone conversation during week three or four of the process
This program is for you if:
- you’ve always secretly wanted to write, but never set aside the time because it didn’t seem “practical” or possible…
- you’re a regular journal writer and writing is your mode of processing, but you never considered sharing your stream of consciousness with another person…
- you write for a living, but have little time or space to write without any agenda. It’s time for a creative boost or to explore a new direction with your writing…
- you don’t consider yourself a “writer” but this sounds like an exciting and safe way to dip your toe in the water with a compassionate witness…
- you’re going through a life transition, experiencing lots of different emotions that are hard to put into words right now, and would like to achieve some clarity…
- you’ve just made a big life decision and it feels slightly scary. Some support right now would be welcome as you navigate uncharted territory…
THE TIMING – 2014:
Writing Day #1 – October 15, 2014
Writing Day #30 – November 13, 2014
Individual phone check-in (20 minutes) #1 – Week of October 20, 2014
Individual phone coaching session (50 minutes) – Week of November 3 or 10, 2014
*Note: Additional 30-day programs to be offered in 2015:
February 2 – March 3, 2015
April 1 – 30, 2015
…and stay tuned for others!
$1,295 paid in full -or- two payments (billed 30 days apart) of $695
Special offer for previous coaching clients: $895 or two payments (billed 30 days apart) of $495
Ready to begin?
Apply now! Here’s how:
1. Do your first 10-minute writing exercise. Need a prompt? Ask me. I’d love to send you one!
2. Send it to me. You can scan or take a photo of your handwritten pages, and attach it to an email.
3. Book your phone interview to make sure this is a good fit for you, and to answer any last-minute questions you may have.
Please send your writing to me at least 24 hours before your scheduled phone appointment.
Once we’re set to go, you will receive an email from me one week before the start of the writing experiment.
Note: The 30-day writing experiment starts on October 15, 2014.
I am in a large group of women artists who have driven up to the ridge of a mountain range and then down a very windy road to a secluded artists retreat program in northern California. All I want to do is stare at the dreamy landscape, watching how the golden green hills go back and back and back, disappearing finally into a fog bank which hovers just above the sea in the distance. I want to watch as the wind blows, the fog clears, and the misty outlines of the hilltops begin to glisten in the midday sunlight. I want to sit and sketch it, and fill in the colors I am seeing, and try to capture the dreaminess, the haziness of it all, the lack of precise outlines which gives it that quality of mystery that makes me want to keep staring.
But we have a schedule. There are ranchers and herders moving us along in this schedule, ensuring that we are on time. I help myself to a large lunch – two servings each of lentil soup and kale salad with some fruit on the side. My idea of a perfect meal. But my stomach feels slightly full after all that, and I am ready to rest and digest.
Having forgotten the schedule momentarily, I’m jarred when it is announced that we now need to move into another room for a “movement activity”. Continue reading
Inspired by the success of the E-Squared Book Club, The Energy Gardeners’ Club will continue the practice of energy experiments to cultivate the seeds of magic in your life, while connecting in nature, and creating a circle of support to empower your actions.
We will revisit certain experiments from the E-Squared book – and the magic wands! – and we’ll go beyond the book into the everyday practice of energy experimentation in our own lives.
Sessions and experiments will reflect the themes of planting, growing, and harvesting the fruits of our intentions, with an emphasis on practical aspects of energy work.
*Bring a sketchbook with blank (not lined) pages, your favorite sketching tools (pens, pencils, crayons, markers, etc), and a blanket or chair to sit on. Wear layers and sunscreen.
Recommended Reading: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout
Tuesdays, 2pm to 4pm
$100 each session of four classes paid in advance, or $30 drop-in each class
Cash or check (payable to “The Music Within Us”) accepted for drop-in payments.
Limited income: $20 drop-in per class. Supporter: $160 session of four classes
Three sessions will be offered in 2014:
Session 1: Planting & Tending the Seeds
at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach (rain location: Here Comes The Sun Coffee House, 8455 Cabrillo Hwy, Montara, (650) 455-4308)
We will meet at the stunning coastal gem, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Beginning with a short hike in silence, we will gather our circle in the shelter of the cypress grove, with views of the sky, the ocean, and the resting seals.
*If you have not read E-Squared before, please read from beginning through the end of Experiment #1 before the first meeting.
Session 2: Growing & Ripening
at Quarry Park, El Granada
Our gathering place will be next to a labyrinth in a eucalyptus grove at the peaceful Quarry Park. We will begin with a short hike in silence, arriving at the labyrinth to create our circle.
*If you have not read E-Squared before, please complete reading from the beginning through the end of Experiment #5 before the first meeting.
Session 3: Harvesting & Sharing
*Please complete reading the E-Squared book in its entirety before the first meeting.
at Maverick’s Beach, Pillar Point, El Granada
Under the open sky of this protected cove, we will gather near another labyrinth. Birds and sea mammals may pay us a visit. A short hike from the parking lot begins our journey as we harvest and share the fruits of our intentions, and gather the seeds for next season’s planting.
**WE WILL MEET IN THE PARKING LOT at 2:00, and walk together to our meeting place.**
This week we discussed Experiments #6 (The Superhero Principle) and #7 (The Jenny Craig Principle). Both principles relate to the ability of our thoughts to impact physical matter in the material world.
First we discussed the results of the seed experiment. As you may recall, Tammy gifted us with sunflower seeds from her studio garden, along with a little bag of soil. It was such a beautiful gift! I went home and planted my seeds that night.
As I tossed them into the soil playfully, I said, “Isn’t it AMAZING that this one row of seeds is already growing faster than the other row?? I’m AMAZED!”. At that point, of course, they were “just” dry seeds going into soil, sitting on my kitchen table. Nothing had happened yet. Except my thought and feeling of ALREADY being amazed at their growth.
Two days later, I was truly amazed to see sprouts beginning to show. I literally thought nothing about these seeds other than the feeling of amazement that they were already growing faster.
I saw Gravity this weekend. It was date night. Since we normally watch movies on Netflix in the luxury of our own living room, with the sunset and ocean behind our backs and the fire roaring in the fireplace, the trip through traffic and the ordeal of finding a parking space in a shopping mall made me expect a lot from this one.
We decided to splurge on the 3-D version. We got a big bag of popcorn, and settled into the theater, which we had mostly to ourselves.
I was already filled with gratitude for my life on the coast after we set foot inside the neon shopping mall that contained the movie theater. At that moment, seeing the names of the food court vendors – none of which were familiar to me, feeling the fluorescence of everything, squinting at the brightness of the SALE signs in every store window, hearing the echoes and reverberation of the cavernous container of the space, I realized how long it had been since I’d shopped in a mall. When had that shifted? I recalled a time in my childhood when the only place to shop for clothes and shoes was the mall. It was also one of the main “hangouts” for kids who went out after school (of which I was not one).
I won’t talk too much about plot points here, but I want to list several of the “messages from the universe” that I feel are embedded in the movie. I’ll scramble them up so as not to have to give too much of a spoiler alert. But if you must see the movie first, I’ll warn you that I refer to some scenes in the text below. Continue reading
This is a note for you. You are such a good student, when there’s a teacher standing in front of the class, and other students surrounding you, all learning to do the same things. You are a stellar worker, always taking responsibility for your job, above and beyond the call of duty. You take instructions quickly, correct your mistakes diligently, and do everything you can to get along with others. You are smart, capable, successful, but still feel there’s something missing from your life, even though you can’t quite name it.
So what is it? What is that missing thing?
I don’t know.
But I’m willing to bet that your relationship with Not Knowing could use a little tune-up. A little checking in and refamiliarizing. Continue reading
The Native American tradition speaks of each person’s Original Medicine – that set of gifts that only you can offer the world with your particular life. I’ve always felt there was such a finality to the phrase “Original Medicine” – like I had to define the one thing I was here to do, or it would be lost forever.
This feeling would ignite the achiever in me, who would scramble to come up with a name, a brand, a package, a business, something very “put-together” that would create an image of how well I knew my Life’s Purpose.
I’ve been doing some version of that for most of my life. But recently I’ve begun to discover a process I find much more alive, much more healing, much more in alignment with my own sense of unconditional wholeness. I call it “Live Your Medicine.” It is the practice of asking, “What time is it now, for me?“. It involves listening for what holds the most fear for me in this moment. And then summoning the courage to take action toward that in one small way. Again and again, revisiting and refreshing with each present moment. Continue reading