The Difference Between Creativity and Productivity

Do you find yourself waiting?

Waiting to act, waiting for the right time, waiting for the perfect conditions, waiting for a reason, waiting for more money, waiting for someone else to finish, before you begin? The difference between creativity and productivity is the energy behind our actions. Our society has conditioned us to be driven by measures of productivity. This means we have been conditioned to run our lives based on what to do next. We wrack our brains making "to do" lists, we pack our schedules full of "things to do", we commute, we rush, we move constantly in our effort to achieve more productivity. What we have not been taught - and what is not valued as publicly - is how to act from the energy of creativity. I have learned from my own deep practice that the energy of creativity is openness, space, and peace. The act of creativity is allowing. All of that may sound way too passive to you, if you, like me, are a product of this culture we live in. Continue reading "The Difference Between Creativity and Productivity"

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 "Cleaning Up The Crap"

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 "Being Your Own Hero"

AHA’s “Simple 7″…Not So Simple After All

The other night I read on the back of a friend's T-shirt the following list of guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA)'s latest heart-healthy lifestyle campaign, called "Life's Simple 7":
  • get active
  • control cholesterol
  • eat better
  • manage blood pressure
  • lose weight
  • reduce blood sugar
  • stop smoking
From my medical training, I recognized each of these 7 items as addressing the major risk factors for coronary artery disease and therefore heart attacks and strokes. However, from my journey of learning about the connection between mind and body, and especially the ways in which our mind dictates the feelings, behaviors, and results we see in our lives, I noticed that these "Simple 7" are not so simple at all. Four of the seven guidelines involve behavioral changes. Three of the seven can be addressed with pharmaceutical drugs but are also dependent on these behavioral changes in order to have maximum impact. These areas of behavior change - exercise, diet, weight loss, and smoking cessation - are typically the most challenging and frustrating for both patients and doctors in a preventive setting. Continue reading "AHA’s “Simple 7″…Not So Simple After All"

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 "The Space of No Thinking"

Practicing Balance – Part 2 of 2

This post grew out of my reflections on being confused...read Part 1 if you haven't already. 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.

From "Woo Woo" to "Win Win"....where's the balance? Continue reading "Practicing Balance – Part 2 of 2"

At Peace with Confusion – Part 1 of 2

I don't know about you, but I'm finding that I'm easily hooked by the idea that I need expert advice in order to do something "right", and that I need a formula to follow in order to be successful. With all of my inner work over the past year and a half, you'd think I'd be over it. You'd think I'd have found Nirvana, bliss, equanimity, access to Buddha nature. Yeah, I thought so too. What I'm really finding is that life keeps challenging me to keep a sense of humor as I learn to trust myself. I veer off the path (or am I merely on a twisty part of it?) and find myself enrolled in another program, following dutifully along like the great student I've always been. But then I look at the pile of assignments I've given myself, and I wonder, "What test am I studying for? Whose grade am I trying to earn here?" Continue reading "At Peace with Confusion – Part 1 of 2"

Is living really as simple as being open to change?

"Truth is living, and therefore, changing." - Bruce Lee
I read that the other day and it shifted my thinking. It hit me like the ring of truth. Could it really be that simple? That living is simply changing? I recalled that the first piece of information that drew me into the field of life coaching was Martha Beck's Change Cycle. It was simple, yet no one had ever presented life as a cycle of change - meaning a continuous circular flow, not a straight line pointing in one direction. I also loved the image of caterpillar turning into butterfly. I had read Trina Paulus' little yellow book, Hope For the Flowers, many times over the past fifteen years, and it always resonated with me as the truth. That within each of us, when we are born, is the potential to transform, to fly, to be beautiful. That it also takes a single act of courage on each person's part, at some point in their caterpillar life, in order to make that transformation possible. Here's an excerpt, paraphrased from Trina Paulus' book:
"How does one become a butterfly?" asked the caterpillar. "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar." "You mean to die?" asked the caterpillar. "Yes and No...Life is changed, not taken away. Isn't that different from those who die without ever becoming butterflies?"
Continue reading "Is living really as simple as being open to change?"

Prepare to be surprised by taking a new path

I tried a brand new hike last week, and it reminded me of my path of trying new modes of expression lately. I continue to observe that whenever we test the boundaries in our minds, and take actions that are outside our current comfort zones, there is the excitement of discovery and the strength of learning that come along with it. In this case, I first had to take the new path, not knowing what was in store for me. Would it be sunny or shady? Hilly or flat? How long would I be walking? Whom would I meet along the way? What I discovered later on in the hike was such a gift of rejuvenation and restoration that I felt a much deeper sense of gratitude for having taken the path of Not Knowing. Turns out, what I didn't know was much better than anything I could have planned out myself! Enjoy these two video clips from my hike, and see what I discovered along the way...

Something fun to think about…

I thought it fitting to comment on the movie "Inception" given that it's all about the mind, and the landscape of our consciousness. Hope you enjoy! Check out this "serious" video made while waiting in line for the movie!