THIS was not a photo on my vision board. I was perfectly content to be performing, showing what I was able to do comfortably, easily, and predictably. I thought I was getting “good” at playing freely, improvising, and creating in the moment. The sound of Chinese Melodrama that matches the stacks of CDs we bring to every gig.
Then THIS had to happen.
By “THIS” I mean: We are at LunarBurn, a three-day outdoor festival and experiment in community living. In my mind, it’s a chance to show up and spread the love. We play our first set at the PermaPub, an intimate venue with couches, a bar, and all the impromptu live music one could ask for. We aren’t even finished with a song (Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away”) near the end of our set, and a guy appears onstage. He has furry white chaps over his jeans, and a grey hoody. He appears to be maybe under the influence of some substances. But what do I even know about these things? I just thought he was a jerk for interrupting our set.
Here’s my, “Get off the stage, jerk!” look:
Yep, what you’re seeing is a whole lotta judgment flowing freely from me in that moment. First he wanted to play my violin. I’d rehearsed this response before, so it was easy to say, “Sorry, I don’t let anyone touch my violin.” 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 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 →
Lately I have found that the best “medicine” I can give myself during the course of a day is to get out of my chair and go on a hike. I am fortunate to live within a few minutes’ drive of several open space preserves, so there are no excuses! Except the voices in my head saying that I “should” be “working”…a very narrowly defined version of working indeed.
I’ve found that every time I actually take the action of going on the hike – against the more prudent advice of the thoughts in my heads saying things like, “Breaks are for the weak“, and, “Working hard is the only way to survive in life” – I experience a burst of creative ideas and energetic opening, which makes me grateful for every breath and every step I can take. It’s not like “working out” at the gym, which I did for many years and with much gusto.
Recently I took a hike and recorded two videos – one before and one afterwards. I set an intention (or actually a “goal”) of practicing self-acknowledgment during the hike, since I had spent the better part of the day flogging myself to work harder, falling into the old thought pattern of, “It’s never enough.”
About halfway through the hike, I realized that in the effort and concentration of pursuing my goal of self-acknowledgment, I had not acknowledged anything that was going on in my immediate surroundings! I had not taken in the particular sights, sounds, and other physical sensations of being on a walk outdoors surrounded by open space and natural vistas. My head was down for most of the first half of the hike. But once I realized this halfway through, and opened myself to experience the present moment, I softened my gaze. I was not working so hard to be on this hike and accomplish rejuvenation as if it were another homework assignment by a teacher. I was shifting into receptivity and noticing everything gently, in real time. I started to look UP at the sky, notice the sounds of the birds, appreciate how the outline of the mountains against the sky, on this particular day, were barely visible because of the misty haze. I started to listen to the sound of my own footsteps on the trail, and how they provided a steady, soft rhythm over which the birds occasionally improvised their solos.
During the second half of my hike, there was a shift into musicality from what had started out mechanically.
This was my experience of coming into the present moment. You hear Eckhart Tolle and Oprah and other teachers talking about “being in the present moment”, but what is your own experience of it, in your own body?
I post this as a reminder that we may spend lots of time trying to learn something, or pay someone to teach us “how to” do something, or read blog after blog in search of the answer to the questions in our heart. I believe that learning and growth are the ultimate purpose of our lives here on earth. However, keep in mind that the most important thing to do while learning is to notice yourself as you learn. By developing the ability to notice what is going on inside you, how you are applying the lessons specifically in your life, and honoring your experience as you respond to being taught, you are giving yourself the true gift of learning…and healing.
I encourage you to find the energy of openness and receptivity in your daily life through your own practice….maybe it’s a hike, or maybe it’s something else. Discover what restores YOU!
Video before the hike (where I set my intention):
Video after the hike (which felt like two different hikes based on a mind shift halfway through):
As 2010 came to a close, I realized that over the past year, I have had the opportunity to become part of three brand new communities (without even changing my physical address). As I embarked on life coach training, certification in music and sound healing, and improvisation as a violinist in the local “open mic” scene, I was welcomed into three totally new worlds for me.
As I crisscrossed the Bay Area and the internet interacting with these distinct groups, it occurred to me that no single place brought together people with such wide-ranging interests. What fun it would be if someone could create a space and purpose for gathering that would allow the expression and sharing of all these creative souls! I realized that I could be that person!
I was inspired to create the Essential Self Extravaganza. The name refers to a central concept of Martha Beck’s life coaching approach, which guides us to find and follow the voice of our essential self, versus the social self we so readily construct as an identity to show the world and “fit in” with the rules of our families, religions, cultures, professional group, or demographic.
I had had enough of the typical “holiday party”, where the focus is on the display of our social selves. The typical conversations starting with the question, “So, what do you do?” or “Where are you from?” were familiar to me, yet no longer of interest. Instead of complaining or lamenting about these kinds of parties, I decided (in the empowerment I am growing into) to host my own gathering – the kind of party I would want to attend myself. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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.
With all the talk of clarity, power, intention, success, and purpose, it can be a little intimidating to acknowledge when you have a moment of confusion.
But there is a time for confusion.
And until we can acknowledge and admit this to ourselves, we cannot move through it. We gloss over the surface of it, trying to fix the outer appearance of our lives, staying busy and enrolled in things, buying more, doing more, hoping that all that activity will make the confusion go away.
It’s true that action and forward motion is such a powerful antidote to feeling stuck and ruminating for too long. But I’ve also found that acknowledging the truth, and being able to rest in the feeling of truth, is an essential starting point.