Tag Archives: Listening

Your Dreams Are Always Coming True

There are a few things I remember always knowing about myself, ever since I was three years old. I remember being in the back seat of the car, when I was three, hearing my parents and brother talking about someone getting into "Harvard". Something about that word rang in my ears. I asked what "Harvard" was. I don't remember what they answered, but I do remember thinking, "Someday I'm going to go there." I let it go for the next fourteen or so years. And then I ended up going there for college. At some other point in time, I remember falling in love with the sound of the French language. I loved learning a foreign language which enabled me to speak elegantly, fluidly, gracefully. It contrasted so much with the angular lines and frantic tempo of the Chinese dialects I heard in my family. And, like music, it was a doorway to a secret world that expanded my ability to understand others and express myself in a different way. I remember thinking, "Someday I'll study at the Sorbonne." It seemed like a throwaway thought at the time, but I remembered it. And I ended up doing just that, as a scholarship winner for six weeks during the summer between high school and college. Six years ago I defrosted another set of childhood dreams. Continue reading

Creating New Rituals: Honor Your Whole Self

I had an Energy Release Ritual this morning. Spur of the moment, totally unplanned, but absolutely inspired. I've been reading a few mind-body healing books ever since attending Dr. Mitchell Gaynor's workshop at CIIS this weekend. Dr. Gaynor is an integrative oncologist based at Cornell Medical Center in New York City and is the embodiment of physician-healer, embracing all of his life experiences and learning from diverse traditions in order to create healing partnerships with his patients. I don't see myself working with disease, but still find myself fascinated by healing stories. Disease is merely one form of communication, through the vehicle of our bodies, to help us become more aware of ourselves. Some people experience healing through a financial crisis, or a job loss, or the death of a loved one. Any time our expectations about life are challenged or even shattered, we are being handed the gift of an opportunity to heal and grow. Somehow this morning I was inspired to let go of some of the energies that I am still carrying and am no longer in need of. I knew that I wanted to have a total body experience of this letting go - not just writing it, or saying it, but experiencing it with all of my senses. I created an altar, which incorporated items representing the five elements - earth, fire, air, water, and ether. I also included a symbol of inner peace, which to me is beautifully exemplified in the image of the Buddha. Continue reading

How does it FEEL to celebrate?

I've never really been good at celebrating my birthday. There are a few birthdays in my life that I remember - one was my 6th birthday when I had a party at my house with my favorite girls from second grade, complete with musical chairs, Bozo buckets, a violin serenade by my brother, and hand-selected party favors for each guest. Another was my sophomore year in college, when my roommate totally surprised me by inviting over half a dozen or so of my best friends, who arrived with cake, balloons, and songs to sing. Yet another was in my twenties, when my brother procured tickets to see Itzhak Perlman and the Minnesota Orchestra, and my parents came into town to join us. But when it has come to my really knowing how to celebrate myself, and knowing what I really have wanted to do on my birthday, I've mostly come up blank. Now I know that it's because I have been more focused on what it LOOKS like to celebrate than how it FEELS to celebrate.

What Celebrating Looks Like

In our image-obsessed culture, we can easily be led to believe that what we SHOW about our lives - how we make things appear - is actually more important than how we FEEL about our selves as we live our lives. Even the lyrics to popular songs teach young girls what it means to "party in the USA" - "Welcome to the land of fame, excess, whoa am I gonna fit in?". Because feelings are often difficult to express in words, or not accurately captured by images, or perhaps don't match up with the social pressure to perform and please, I have (perhaps like you) defaulted to suppressing the feelings, not bothering to connect with them, and making choices based on what will make me LOOK like I'm doing fine. I did this without being conscious of it. It happened slowly, in small steps, over time, like any changes do. Continue reading

Restorative Practice #5: Do One Thing At A Time

Have you ever tried actually doing one thing at a time? I've found that it takes a tremendous amount of trust - an amount I often don't have - to truly do one thing at a time. Somehow my brain prefers that high-anxiety mode of doing many things at once, having many irons in the fire, keeping many options open, so to speak. But the reality of that mode is nothing ever gets done, and I never feel totally complete. In other words, I set myself up to prove the belief that underlies this kind of behavior: "I am not enough." To turn this behavior around, I first choose a new thought to believe: "I am complete, as I am, in this moment." At first, I repeat it as a mantra that sounds ridiculous because my brain has never practiced focusing attention on all the ways that I am, in fact, complete, as I am, in this moment. I have trained my brain, for many years and quite intensively, to find all the ways that "I am not enough" - all the ways that I "should be" doing more than what I am doing right now. But since I have made the choice to be and do in a different way, to connect with a different energy as the source of my actions, I keep repeating that mantra. I allow myself some stillness and some time to find one example of how I am really complete, as I am, in this moment. I find some gentleness toward myself as I learn a new way. I remember that I am like a toddler, about to take my first steps, and joyfully falling and getting up more times than I will be able to count. I choose something to do, in this moment, which gives me the feeling in my body of being complete as I am. These days, it is a hike. I get to move my body, deepen my breath, and bring my senses in contact with nature - the sky, the cool air, the silence. Yesterday I happened to shoot two videos - one before my hike, and one after. I think you'll see a visible difference in my face, or at least sense a different energy from me, in the two videos. Plus, in the second video I leave you with two questions to ask yourself about your own restorative practices. Enjoy!

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Or Else What? Finding Your Own Answer To Holiday Overwhelm

It seems to me that there's this game we play around the holidays. We somehow feel obligated to replay the old tapes of the past, gathering together in the same ways, repeating the same "traditions", whether or not they still work for us. The result? A clenching of the jaw, a tensing of our shoulders, a knotted up feeling in our stomach, as we enter this "joyous" holiday season. Some of us might even roll our eyes without knowing it when we say the word "family". Since all the messages around us are shouting, "Peace! Joy! Love! Thankfulness! Giving!" we feel downright guilty about our deepest truth: we just don't want to do the holidays the same way anymore. That guilt gnaws at our energy for a good two months. We conduct our surface actions under the weight of the thought, "This is what I have to do." So we suck it up. We buy our plane tickets, or get in our cars, battling the crowds of people who all seem to be happily going to visit family, but very well could be gnawing away inside too. Or we buy the new sparkly red dress, the high heels, the purse, the whole deal. We show up at the party with all the people we don't even like. We do it anyway. Why? Not exactly by choice, but because we think "we have to".

Or else what?

When was the last time you questioned your own holiday patterns of action and so-called "traditions"? When was the last time you gave yourself permission to even ask the question, "What do I want to do for the holidays?" Continue reading

Recognize and Rest

I've been teaching and deepening my learning each time I teach. This time it's the lessons of Tibetan Sound Healing, as transmitted by the lama Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. So simple are the sounds of the warrior seed syllables (just 5 single syllable sounds, chanted repeatedly), and yet so deep the lessons, when practiced. The concept that really stuck with me from Tuesday was resting in the recognition that "I am complete, as I am, in this moment." Without reason. Without condition. Without any explanation. I breathed it in and felt the power of resting in that energy of peace, joy, and freedom. What power could I manifest if I just rested in that recognition? Today I practiced again, right after a particularly poignant moment of recognition for me. Take the time to say this to yourself: "I am complete, as I am, in this moment." Say the sound "Ah" and breathe into the feeling of space opened by the vibration in your body. Repeat and rest.

Cleaning Up The Crap

Face-to-Face With The Crap

I stopped by my post office box this morning after who-knows-how-long. I was expecting to have trouble turning the key on my box, the folded up magazines and edges of post cards shredded by all the successive stuffing and weeks of piling up. I was surprised to see an empty box, except for a single slip of paper saying, "Please claim your mail at the counter." I stood in line as a young man with tight-fitting jeans, tortoise-shell glasses, a Members Only jacket, and a black Tumi laptop backpack (this was the downtown Palo Alto post office) put one envelope after another on the scale, each certified mail with return receipt, and then wanted to mail two packages overseas Priority Mail. He was taking forever. And then it was my turn, finally. I extended my hand with the slip of paper and waited. A few minutes later, the woman behind the counter emerged with a white Postal Service carton (the kind the mailmen use in their trucks) between her two hands, resting against her belly. "Here you go," she said cheerily. "Wow," I said out loud. I had to look at the physical representation of several weeks (probably a month) of not attending to my previous ritual of checking my business mailbox. Mostly this ritual was about feeling important for having a business mailbox. None of the mail I receive there seems to be addressed to me personally, and all of the bills I receive online. The energy I spend on my P.O. box is primarily spent shredding and throwing things away. It's mostly crap. I sighed as I tried to make a bundle out of the assorted items in the carton, then carried them, like an infant against my chest, over to another counter to sort through them. I picked a spot right next to the recycling bin. They were predictable things - all the junk mail and marketing solicitations of having a credit card and magazine subscriptions mailed to a P.O. Box. They were also vestiges of my previous life, which consisted of lots of time spent thinking about furniture, clothes, shoes, and travel destinations. So two Pottery Barn catalogs, two Crate and Barrel catalogs, a Restoration Hardware catalog. And of course, two Shar Music catalogs. Why always two? And then the mailings from Yoga Journal. At least four statements saying the same thing – “Your subscription expires a year from now. Will you pay us now? Thank you.” I went through as much of it as I could at the post office, then brought the rest home. I opened my home mail box also to be greeted by a fully stuffed space. Looking at it, having to look straight at it, reminded me that it was unequivocally time. It was time to clean up the crap. Not the pile of mail in front of me. But what the pile of mail represented in my life. It reminded me of the central image in Iyanla Vanzant's memoir Yesterday, I Cried, and this quote:
"Some people don't know how, and others never think about going back and cleaning up their crap. Most people want to start today and feel better tomorrow. They want to take a yoga class, listen to a meditation tape, rub a crystal on their head, and believe they have fixed their lives and healed their souls. You cannot create a new way of being in one day. You must take your time remembering, cleaning up, and gaining strength."
It hit me that I have been feeling ready to do some remembering. I had built some strength and rather than running forward, it felt like time to clean up some crap. Continue reading

Being Your Own Hero

OK, I admit it. I was disappointed. I was disappointed when Tiger Woods, just a few short months after the "SUV incident" outside his home in Florida, staged a press conference, stood behind a podium, and recited a canned apology written in corporate-speak by the damage-control PR spin doctors at Nike. Like a dutiful boy, he was dressed in a suit, clean-shaven, looking humble and respectful to the corporate sponsors who made his public career that much more lucrative. But beneath the surface was a whole story waiting to be uncovered, spoken, and shared. I secretly (and not so secretly) cheered Tiger on when he hit the apparent depths of his personal crisis - the extent of his adultery revealed, the intensity of the pain he has kept hidden beneath the socially acceptable, corporate endorsement-worthy veneer of relentless competitiveness and focus. I saw this as an opportunity for Tiger to deliver his real "medicine" to the world, and to show us how a hero falls, journeys through the abyss of his own self-discovery, and emerges whole in a different way. With a different message about heroicism, with a more solid foundation on which to stand, with a deeper message than can be conveyed merely by counting wins and trophies. Continue reading

Waking Up To Love

Every once in awhile, I get completely jolted into awakening. It's like the universe taking me by the shoulders, shaking me, and saying, "Wake up to your life. Look! Listen! Pay attention!" Usually these moments happen exactly when I admit to myself that I just don't know. When I completely surrender to not knowing, and just relax there, it's my way of asking for guidance. I'm opening to the possibility of something waking me up. Last Wednesday was one of those moments. I dragged myself to another open mic at Angelica's. After going every week for nearly six months now, I admit that sometimes it's a bit of a chore to get myself there. But I do it because I know that playing music and seeing other musicians play - and frankly, the "you-never-know-who'll-show-up" factor - will feed my soul in some way. I even brought my computer this time, because I had been on a bit of a writing "roll" before I left the house, and thought I might pass the time by writing. It was Game One of the World Series, with the San Francisco Giants playing. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. In other words, we didn't expect peak attendance at that night's open mic. Well, it ended up being proof that quality far outweighs quantity. Continue reading

The Space of No Thinking

The creative space is one of NO mind.
This morning, as I was driving to the grocery store, there were these thoughts running through my head: "What if I could just relax into ACCEPTANCE of myself, exactly as I am right now?" "What if I could treat myself as if right now, exactly as everything is, it IS all exactly as it should be?" I was trying to examine my recent thought patterns which were centered around "concern" for a variety of things in my life: was I spending enough time doing the right things, was I doing enough yoga, was I eating enough fruit and vegetables, was I working hard enough on the right things for my business, was I spending too much time on "non-productive" activities.... The list went on and on, and nothing seemed to be "clicking" or "flowing" during the past few weeks until the rare moments when I just let go and did the ONE thing right in front of me. This morning, I was thinking about the feeling and energy around doing JUST THIS, RIGHT NOW. What is it about that thought which creates flow? It's certainly not a state of heightened anxiety and pushing and grasping. It's not an energy of worrying. It's exactly the opposite. It's LETTING GO of all the worrying and relaxing the mind completely. Continue reading