Tag Archives: practice

Be Willing to Drop the F Bomb

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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

Exercise Your Write To Be Free

Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjpacres/

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

Write To Be Free: The 30-Day Writing Experiment

Write To Be Free

THE PREMISE:

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.

THE PURPOSE:

  • 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

Life altering experience

THE PRACTICE:

  • 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.

THE MAGIC:

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.

THE EXPERIMENT:

  • 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

Whole New World

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!

INVESTMENT:

$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.

Surrender and Loving It ‘Til You Know What It Is

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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.

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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

Where are you reaching FROM?

IMG_3415A few weeks ago, on August 20, I read the news that BKS Iyengar, the renowned Indian yoga teacher and founder of the Iyengar Yoga tradition, had died at age 95. Immediately I was brought back to the many memories I have as a result of his teachings. My first California yoga teachers were trained in the Iyengar tradition. In their classes I was exposed for the first time to silent meditation and chanting. I remember as a student just managing to tolerate these first few minutes of ritual as I waited for “the real yoga class” to begin. What could these Sanskrit sounds possibly have to do with my physical strength, flexibility, and fitness, which is why I did yoga (or so I thought)? Continue reading

The Energy Gardeners’ Club: Experiments To Cultivate Seeds of Magic In Your Life

Energy Gardeners Club

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

May 6

May 13

May 20

May 27

at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach (rain location: Here Comes The Sun Coffee House, 8455 Cabrillo Hwy, Montara, (650) 455-4308)

Fitzgerald cypress grove

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

June 3

June 10

June 17

June 24

at Quarry Park, El Granada

Quarry Park labyrinthQuarry Park labyrinthOur 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

September 9

September 16

September 23

September 30

*Please complete reading the E-Squared book in its entirety before the first meeting.

at Maverick’s Beach, Pillar Point, El Granada

Mavericks Labyrinth with sky

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.**

E-Squared Book Club: Week 4

Shirley plays with magic wands as Tammy witnesses.

Shirley plays with magic wands as Tammy witnesses.

It was a foggy, misty morning, but just before 10 o’clock, the sun began to shine.

We gathered to discuss Experiment #5 – the Dear Abby Principle. This states that we each have unlimited access to a constant source of inner guidance from the FP.

Pam talks mostly about the distinction between our conscious mind (logical, rational brain) and inner guidance. Too often we get the two confused, and we use our conscious thoughts as guidance. Oops!

The conscious mind has these important functions:

  • identifying problems
  • formulating goals
  • making judgments
  • comparing current experience to past experience
  • interpreting results and building models

However, it’s not the source of guidance when you “don’t know” what to do, or when you want to take a step toward a vision you want to create.

I’m curious: what forms has YOUR inner guidance come in? Continue reading

How To Practice True Self-Confidence

Inviting Mystery

Inviting Mystery

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 disagree.

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

How is your relationship with Not Knowing?

Not Knowing is most intimate…” – Zen saying
Mavericks Labyrinth with sky

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

Live Your Medicine

Lisa Pillar Point FB profile reverse warrior

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.

No pressure!

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