Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year's Resolutions are Stupid!

New Year's resolutions are stupid for 2 reasons:

First, they only work with the will, the conscious mind, which is maybe 10% of you.

Second, they are normally said, "This year, I'm going to..." Saying "I'm going to" puts whatever follows into the future, giving you the subliminal message not to do that now, but sometime in the future. The only time we can do anything is in the present, so telling yourself to do something in the future is a way of telling yourself not to do it.

What you should do instead is affirmation. An affirmation is a positive, present tense statement of what you want as if it already existed. It must be something you can control -- affirming that someone else will do something is useless. A simple delcarative statement works best. Affirmations are generally best when they are 7 - 11 words, according research cited by Paul Pearsall in his book, "Wishing Well".

So instead of saying, "This year, I'm going to get in shape", say, "I now enjoy exercising daily", which will have the effect of getting you in shape. The more specific you can be, the better, so "I now enjoy walking 3 miles a day and lifting weights 3 times a week" would be even better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Connectedness, priorities, synchronicity and Katrina

On August 29, as Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast, I sent an email to a client of mine who lives in Biloxi, inquiring as to his well-being, and saying I’d send up a little prayer for his safety and that of his family, which includes a wife and 2 kids.

Yesterday morning, I was going to do a monologue for my radio show about setting priorities in our busy lives. It was probably useful for people to hear, and I will most likely use it next week, but I have to say, it isn’t anything terribly special. So right before the 5 AM show, I went down into my office to get my email, and found the following (name changed to protect privacy):

“What ever you did in that little prayer it worked. Just a mile south there
is total decimation. Sad stories of families who perished. One was a Air
Force Sergeant and his wife was found dead in the debris. When they looked
for their children they could not find them, a few days later they found
them dead in the trees near their house. My father had to go into his attic
to escape the rising water. I am very lucky considering all the people I
know who don't even have a house to go back too. My cousins live in north
Biloxi about a quarter mile from back bay, they all lived as a family
community and all their houses took up a city block. I went there and all
you see is the great oak trees, green grass, many clothes in the trees and
cleared city block, you see slabs and concrete pillars where houses once
stood. Way back north of their block you see the debris which was once
their house. It is really awful, it's like we live in a third world country,
having to forage for food, water and ice. I just got electricity back at my
house. I had some wind damage to my roof, down trees and fence. The water
came within a foot of my house. My sister had roof damage with water in her
house. My brother had roof damage because 5 trees hit his house causing
roof damage. The pictures and film on TV don't do it justice, seeing it up
close you see just pure decimation. One street I went down to get to my
cousins community there was debris stacked 15 feet high on both sides of the
street. Many of these homes in this neighborhood over a hundred years old
were destroyed. My great Grandfather built 8 of these houses in the early
19 hundred's and now they are gone. They stood after hurricane Camille (Also
a category 5 hurricane), but now there is no recognition of them. I am
housing some of my family, I am also trying to help my 77 year father
rebuild his life back. When you look you just don't know where to start.
His house still has mud and gunk in it. We salvaged a few things but left
the rest. He also lost both of his cars. He has a limited income, he did
have flood insurance but not enough to rebuild his house. We need to clean
everything out but the odor is so bad. I know I am rambling, sorry, it's a
lot to take in. I sometimes have survivors guilt. I'll make it and our
family will rebuild, we have our chin up and we're not going to let this
storm take our spirit, we will build stronger and better than ever before.
"Smith's never Quit". If you are interested I will send you pictures.”

What a lesson in priorities! Family, home, community. Much better than what I wrote.

And it just goes to show how closely connected we all are. Although at an energy level, we’re all one, it’s hard to remember that sometimes. But I am ONE person away from this disaster, and if you don’t personally know anyone there, you are now TWO people away from it. It’s no longer 6 degrees of separation — it’s 2, or maybe 3. So we need to support our extended family.

I’ve written back to Mr. Smith, asking for photos, and asking if there’s anything we can do from a distance that is not already being done. I’ll let you know what I hear. And if you haven’t made a donation to the charitable organizations that are working in the Gulf Coast, please do give what you can. I did.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ways to Donate to disaster relief for Hurricane Katrina

Here are a few links:

American Red Cross www.redcross.org
Salvation Army www.salvationarmy.org
Noahs Wish www.noahswish.org

I have not checked these out personally, but the Red Cross and Salvation have been there for us in disasters for many decades. Noah's Wish supports animals in natural disasters. Operation Blessing exists only to serve and support those in disasters. Please check them out for yourself before donating.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

How to deal with loss in 5 simple questions

I heard Peter Jennings died yesterday. Wow! That hit me somehow, and I didn’t know why. Now, I’d been watching him ever since I had my own TV, probably in the mid 80s, first for a quick update on the day’s news, and then just to see what version of the news America was getting. But I didn’t know him personally, so why was that a shock?

That got me thinking about loss.

Loss is a normal part of life. There are everyday losses, like when you throw away the garbage, or give away old clothes, and once in a lifetime losses, like when a parent dies, and everything in between, but they all have the same structure.

You have to lose something to make room for something new. This is obvious if you buy a new book and try to fit it into your overstuffed bookshelves.

It’s less obvious with relationships, and still true – there’s just not enough time for too many good friends. So you lose touch with some. Often it’s due to decreased proximity. One of you changes jobs or schools, or moves, and it isn’t as convenient, and you lose touch.

It’s also less obvious, but gaining something can mean losing something else. When your teenager gets his or her driver’s license, it’s a good thing in many ways - the teen gets mobility, some freedom, and you get a helper, since he or she can run errands for you, pick up a little sister, or go shopping alone. But you also can have a loss. You can lose closeness, because those moments in the car can be really great times to connect.

How do you cope with loss? As I see it, there are 5 questions to ask yourself:

1) What did you lose?
Identify it completely.
2) What was its value to you?
There are all kinds of values: monetary, emotional, practical, etc.
3) When did it go missing?
Be honest. You can lose something long before you note its passing.
4) What will you replace it with?
Sometimes you can replace it completely, sometimes not. Sometimes you can replace some of its valuable qualities, or some of its aspects, but not all.
5) How are still connected to it? How do you still have it?
We always have memories, and sometimes non-physical connections.


I’ll go through this with three examples, one each of a thing (the easiest), a person (the most complicated), and a symbol (the most universal).

Thing

Several years ago, I lost a watch. Now, this was not just any watch. It was a watch my great uncle gave my father when he went into the army at age 17 for WWII, which Dad gave me for my high school graduation. And it was on a lovely gold band, which was my college graduation present. Its value to me was practical, as it told time, monetary, as it was an antique on a heavy gold band, and sentimental, because of how it had come to me. It was a link to my past and to my family’s past.

It went missing a few days before I admitted it to myself. I was in a hurry, and just took out an old Timex I’d had since high school, and used that till I scoured the house and really couldn’t find it. So I had already found a substitute. And to be completely honest, I’d already learned of the Teslar watch, which strengthens one’s energy field, and wanted one, and felt guilty about buying a watch I didn’t need, as I already had this lovely one. (Be careful what you wish for!) So I replaced my Dad’s watch with a Teslar one.

I still am connected to it, because I can still “see” it on my wrist, if I take a second, since it was there almost 24 hours a day for over 30 years.

And really, it’s only a thing.

Person

My Dad, to whom I was quite close, died about a year and a half ago. What did I lose? I lost his hugs, access to his love, his advice and teaching, and the ability to experience things with him in the physical, and I lost some almost physical resonance with his body. For about the first 24 hours after he died, I felt really physically shaky, as if my body was looking for a genetic resonance it could no longer find.

When did I lose these things? Well, since we’d lived mostly apart since I was 13, I lost most of those hugs at that age. And obviously, since we weren’t together all that often, we couldn’t experience things together very often. His advice and teaching of me dwindled over the years, as I learned more, and as he respected me more, and knew I needed it less. And he’d been unable to give me any advice at all for the few months before he died. The resonance was lost, I guess, at the moment of his death.

While I can’t replace my father, because nothing can erase his imprint on me, and wouldn’t want to replace him, I do get great hugs and love from my husband, my family and many terrific friends. I get advice and teaching from a variety of people whom I respect in different fields. While the genetic resonance went away and hasn’t, and perhaps can’t be, replaced, I am still connected to Dad energetically or psychically. I hear him occasionally, at the oddest times, saying things only he would have said. So I know he’s there. If I can’t hear him more, it’s my lack of communication skills, not that he’s really gone. And if I concentrate, I can visualize him and feel his love, so we’re connected that way as well.

If you believe the soul is eternal, and I do, then the fact that I can’t communicate with him better is due only to my lack of communication skills. That’s something I can work on! And when I die, or change state to one more like his, then I expect the communication will get easier again. And when I miss him, I try my best to ask him to be with me so he can share my experience.

Symbol

So – back to Peter Jennings. When he died, what did I really lose? I lost the image of a person who showed up in my home with great regularity, that I trusted to sift through the vastness of world events and competently tell me what was important in a fair, reasonably impartial way. (Okay, I’m older now, more savvy, and less trusting, but this was still true, if a lot less true than 20 years ago.)

When did I lose it? He went off the air 4 months ago, in April. It was a little sad then, but I took no real notice.

With what did I replace it? A varied menu of reading on the internet, accompanied by the occasional watching of some network’s nightly news, to see what America is being told about the world today.

How am I still connected to it? In memories – images of Jennigs on that 25 hour around the world welcome to the millennium, for one.

And I think his death hit me because it’s a reminder of time passing, that the only constant is change.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Free advice!

Well, 3 - 5 minutes worth, anyway!

A long time dream of mine is beginning to come true! I’m doing a weekly half hour radio show on Tuesdays at 5AM (Pacific time) on KEST. For those of you farther east, it’s a very manageable time: 8AM on the east coast, and 7AM in the Midwest.

This is a local San Francisco station, whose signal covers much of the Bay Area, so if you’re here and you’re away, please tune in to 1450AM. It is unfortunately not streaming on the web, so if you are outside the Bay Area, you can’t hear me on the air.

This is coaching. I am not doing readings on the air for two reasons:

1) It’s boring for the audience. When I used to hear psychics on the air, I’d be reading right along with them to see if what I got was different from what they got. Most people aren’t going to do that, so I don’t know that they really be interested.
3) I’d need both your first and last names, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do that. I have been told that on many stations, there’s a technical way around this, but not on the tiny station I’m on.

It’s a call in show — and I really need callers, as it’s new -- so call me with questions on relationships of all sorts (significant others, potential significant others, friends, people you work with, families, extended families, almost anything you can think of really concerns a relationship), business or career issues, life direction issues. There’s only one real requirement, which is that it must be YOUR issue, not someone else’s. If by some stroke of luck, the lines are busy, please just wait a few minutes and try again.

The number to call is

415-543-TALK (415-543-8255)

Again:

8 – 8:30 AM Eastern time
5 – 5:30 AM Pacific time

Call me! Let's talk!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Watching New Love as It Sears the Brain - New York Times

If you've ever fallen in love, you know it makes you crazy. You know that for a time, it is the most important thing in the world, more important than sleeping or eating. Have people told you it was "all in your head"? Well, maybe it was all in your head, but not in the way you think.

This article from the NY Times describes cutting edge brain research, which shows that romantic love is separate and disctinct from sexual arousal, and much more like "food, warmth, craving for drugs".

Watching New Love as It Sears the Brain
By BENEDICT CAREY
Published: May 31, 2005

New love can look for all the world like mental illness, a blend of mania, dementia and obsession that cuts people off from friends and family and prompts out-of-character behavior - compulsive phone calling, serenades, yelling from rooftops - that could almost be mistaken for psychosis.

A new study suggests that an area of the brain known as the caudate is associated with passion.
Now for the first time, neuroscientists have produced brain scan images of this fevered activity, before it settles into the wine and roses phase of romance or the joint holiday card routines of long-term commitment.

In an analysis of the images appearing today in The Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers in New York and New Jersey argue that romantic love is a biological urge distinct from sexual arousal.

It is closer in its neural profile to drives like hunger, thirst or drug craving, the researchers assert, than to emotional states like excitement or affection. As a relationship deepens, the brain scans suggest, the neural activity associated with romantic love alters slightly, and in some cases primes areas deep in the primitive brain that are involved in long-term attachment.

The research helps explain why love produces such disparate emotions, from euphoria to anger to anxiety, and why it seems to become even more intense when it is withdrawn. In a separate, continuing experiment, the researchers are analyzing brain images from people who have been rejected by their lovers.

"When you're in the throes of this romantic love it's overwhelming, you're out of control, you're irrational, you're going to the gym at 6 a.m. every day - why? Because she's there," said Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and the co-author of the analysis. "And when rejected, some people contemplate stalking, homicide, suicide. This drive for romantic love can be stronger than the will to live."

Brain imaging technology cannot read people's minds, experts caution, and a phenomenon as many sided and socially influenced as love transcends simple computer graphics, like those produced by the technique used in the study, called functional M.R.I.

Still, said Dr. Hans Breiter, director of the Motivation and Emotion Neuroscience Collaboration at Massachusetts General Hospital, "I distrust about 95 percent of the M.R.I. literature and I would give this study an 'A'; it really moves the ball in terms of understanding infatuation love."

He added: "The findings fit nicely with a large, growing body of literature describing a generalized reward and aversion system in the brain, and put this intellectual construct of love directly onto the same axis as homeostatic rewards such as food, warmth, craving for drugs."

In the study, Dr. Fisher, Dr. Lucy Brown of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and Dr. Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, led a team that analyzed about 2,500 brain images from 17 college students who were in the first weeks or months of new love. The students looked at a picture of their beloved while an M.R.I. machine scanned their brains. The researchers then compared the images with others taken while the students looked at picture of an acquaintance.

Functional M.R.I. technology detects increases or decreases of blood flow in the brain, which reflect changes in neural activity.

In the study, a computer-generated map of particularly active areas showed hot spots deep in the brain, below conscious awareness, in areas called the caudate nucleus and the ventral tegmental area, which communicate with each other as part of a circuit.

These areas are dense with cells that produce or receive a brain chemical called dopamine, which circulates actively when people desire or anticipate a reward. In studies of gamblers, cocaine users and even people playing computer games for small amounts of money, these dopamine sites become extremely active as people score or win, neuroscientists say.

Yet falling in love is among the most irrational of human behaviors, not merely a matter of satisfying a simple pleasure, or winning a reward. And the researchers found that one particular spot in the M.R.I. images, in the caudate nucleus, was especially active in people who scored highly on a questionnaire measuring passionate love.

This passion-related region was on the opposite side of the brain from another area that registers physical attractiveness, the researchers found, and appeared to be involved in longing, desire and the unexplainable tug that people feel toward one person, among many attractive alternative partners.

This distinction, between finding someone attractive and desiring him or her, between liking and wanting, "is all happening in an area of the mammalian brain that takes care of most basic functions, like eating, drinking, eye movements, all at an unconscious level, and I don't think anyone expected this part of the brain to be so specialized," Dr. Brown said.

The intoxication of new love mellows with time, of course, and the brain scan findings reflect some evidence of this change, Dr. Fisher said.

In an earlier functional M.R.I. study of romance, published in 2000, researchers at University College London monitored brain activity in young men and women who had been in relationships for about two years. The brain images, also taken while participants looked at photos of their beloved, showed activation in many of the same areas found in the new study - but significantly less so, in the region correlated with passionate love, she said.

In the new study, the researchers also saw individual differences in their group of smitten lovers, based on how long the participants had been in the relationships. Compared with the students who were in the first weeks of a new love, those who had been paired off for a year or more showed significantly more activity in an area of the brain linked to long-term commitment.

Last summer, scientists at Emory University in Atlanta reported that injecting a ratlike animal called a vole with a single gene turned promiscuous males into stay-at-home dads - by activating precisely the same area of the brain where researchers in the new study found increased activity over time.

"This is very suggestive of attachment processes taking place," Dr. Brown said. "You can almost imagine a time where instead of going to Match.com you could have a test to find out whether you're an attachment type or not."

One reason new love is so heart-stopping is the possibility, the ever-present fear, that the feeling may not be entirely requited, that the dream could suddenly end.

In a follow-up experiment, Dr. Fisher, Dr. Aron and Dr. Brown have carried out brain scans on 17 other young men and women who recently were dumped by their lovers. As in the new love study, the researchers compared two sets of images, one taken when the participants were looking at a photo of a friend, the other when looking at a picture of their ex.

Although they are still sorting through the images, the investigators have noticed one preliminary finding: increased activation in an area of the brain related to the region associated with passionate love. "It seems to suggest what the psychological literature, poetry and people have long noticed: that being dumped actually does heighten romantic love, a phenomenon I call frustration-attraction," Dr. Fisher said in an e-mail message.

One volunteer in the study was Suzanna Katz, 22, of New York, who suffered through a breakup with her boyfriend three years ago. Ms. Katz said she became hyperactive to distract herself after the split, but said she also had moments of almost physical withdrawal, as if weaning herself from a drug.

"It had little to do with him, but more with the fact that there was something there, inside myself, a hope, a knowledge that there's someone out there for you, and that you're capable of feeling this way, and suddenly I felt like that was being lost," she said in an interview.

And no wonder. In a series of studies, researchers have found that, among other processes, new love involves psychologically internalizing a lover, absorbing elements of the other person's opinions, hobbies, expressions, character, as well as sharing one's own. "The expansion of the self happens very rapidly, it's one of the most exhilarating experiences there is, and short of threatening our survival it is one thing that most motivates us," said Dr. Aron, of SUNY, a co-author of the study.

To lose all that, all at once, while still in love, plays havoc with the emotional, cognitive and deeper reward-driven areas of the brain. But the heightened activity in these areas inevitably settles down. And the circuits in the brain related to passion remain intact, the researchers say - intact and capable in time of flaring to life with someone new.

Watching New Love as It Sears the Brain - New York Times

Monday, May 16, 2005

Scientists Say Everyone Can Read Minds

I have said for many years that the clairsenses (clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, clairolfaction, clairgustation, and telepathy) are natural and normal human abilities. Now scientists are proving it!

Hollis

Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.com Wed Apr 27,10:24 AM ET

Empathy allows us to feel the emotions of others, to identify and understand their feelings and motives and see things from their perspective. How we generate empathy remains a subject of intense debate in cognitive science.

Some scientists now believe they may have finally discovered its root. We're all essentially mind readers, they say.

The idea has been slow to gain acceptance, but evidence is mounting.

Mirror neurons

In 1996, three neuroscientists were probing the brain of a macaque monkey when they stumbled across a curious cluster of cells in the premotor cortex, an area of the brain responsible for planning movements. The cluster of cells fired not only when the monkey performed an action, but likewise when the monkey saw the same action performed by someone else. The cells responded the same way whether the monkey reached out to grasp a peanut, or merely watched in envy as another monkey or a human did.

Because the cells reflected the actions that the monkey observed in others, the neuroscientists named them "mirror neurons."


Later experiments confirmed the existence of mirror neurons in humans and revealed another surprise. In addition to mirroring actions, the cells reflected sensations and emotions.

"Mirror neurons suggest that we pretend to be in another person's mental shoes," says Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. "In fact, with mirror neurons we do not have to pretend, we practically are in another person's mind."

Since their discovery, mirror neurons have been implicated in a broad range of phenomena, including certain mental disorders. Mirror neurons may help cognitive scientists explain how children develop a theory of mind (ToM), which is a child's understanding that others have minds similar to their own. Doing so may help shed light on autism, in which this type of understanding is often missing.

Theory theory

Over the years, cognitive scientists have come up with a number of theories to explain how ToM develops. The "theory theory" and "simulation theory" are currently two of the most popular.


Theory theory describes children as budding social scientists. The idea is that children collect evidence -- in the form of gestures and expressions -- and use their everyday understanding of people to develop theories that explain and predict the mental state of people they come in contact with.

Vittorio Gallese, a neuroscientist at the University of Parma in Italy and one of original discovers of mirror neurons, has another name for this theory: he calls it the "Vulcan Approach," in honor of the Star Trek protagonist Spock, who belonged to an alien race called the Vulcans who suppressed their emotions in favor of logic. Spock was often unable to understand the emotions that underlie human behavior.

Gallese himself prefers simulation theory over this Vulcan approach.

Natural mind readers


Simulation theory states that we are natural mind readers. We place ourselves in another person's "mental shoes," and use our own mind as a model for theirs.

Gallese contends that when we interact with someone, we do more than just observe the other person's behavior. He believes we create internal representations of their actions, sensations and emotions within ourselves, as if we are the ones that are moving, sensing and feeling.

Many scientists believe that mirror neurons embody the predictions of simulation theory. "We share with others not only the way they normally act or subjectively experience emotions and sensations, but also the neural circuits enabling those same actions, emotions and sensations: the mirror neuron systems," Gallese told LiveScience.

Gallese points out, however, that the two theories are not mutually exclusive. If the mirror neuron system is defective or damaged, and our ability to empathize is lost, the observe-and-guess method of theory theory may be the only option left. Some scientists suspect this is what happens in autistic people, whose mental disorder prevents them from understanding the intentions and motives of others.

Tests underway


The idea is that the mirror neuron systems of autistic individuals are somehow impaired or deficient, and that the resulting "mind-blindness" prevents them from simulating the experiences of others. For autistic individuals, experience is more observed than lived, and the emotional undercurrents that govern so much of our human behavior are inaccessible. They guess the mental states of others through explicit theorizing, but the end result is a list -- mechanical and impersonal -- of actions, gestures and expressions void of motive, intent, or emotion.

Several labs are now testing the hypothesis that autistic individuals have a mirror neuron deficit and cannot simulate the mental states of others.

One recent experiment by Hugo Theoret and colleagues at the University of Montreal showed that mirror neurons normally active during the observation of hand movements in non-autistic individuals are silent in those who have autism.

"You either simulate with mirror neurons, or the mental states of others are completely precluded to you," said Iacoboni.

For this full story, and links to other interesing information, please go to:

Scientists Say Everyone Can Read Minds - Yahoo! News

Life Tip - Active Listening

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, April 22, 2005

My gift to you

If there were one gift I could give everyone, it would be the ability not to take things personally, to stay neutral under what seem like personal attacks. It would eliminate so much unnecessary suffering.

I bring this up because I had a perfect example the other day. A client called me after a fight with her boyfriend, wondering if their relationship was over. When I looked at him psychically, what I saw was that he was having a career identity crisis. He was unbelievably frustrated at his perceived failure at a job he didn’t really want anyway, while working successfully but slowly on the side to create his ideal work. And in his frustration, he just lost it at her over a minor disagreement. Because he called her some names, she took it personally. That’s natural in the circumstance, and of course the best thing would be for him to learn to separate his frustration at his work from his disagreement with her.

But she, not he, was my client. And all she can change is herself. So what she can learn to do is to ground, take a deep breath, relax a bit, ask the question, ‘What is going on for him?’ and wait for the answer to come. It will always come, because at some level, we really do know what's going on with others. It may take a while, and the more you ask the question, the faster the answers will come.

Then she can act on that answer, for example, mirroring back his frustration to him, rather than holding on to her position. This gives him the space to acknowledge his feelings, and possibly go deeper into them, rather than making her wrong. That makes the relationship stronger and safer.

Think about all the circumstances where this technique might be appropriate. A good clue is that the attack on you is completely out of proportion to what was happening immediately before the attack. I’m sure you’ll think of a few. Remember to

- ground,
- take a deep breath
- relax your body consciously and
- ask, ‘What is going on for him/her? What is this outburst doing for him/her?’
- wait for the answer

Sometimes, though, the argument is really about you, or about the relationship. How do you tell? I’ll tackle that in my next blog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Instant Practice

It’s an oxymoron, right? No, actually, it’s a really cool practice that takes intention, but no time out of your day. And it’s more difficult (at least for me) and more interesting than you might imagine.

So, what’s the practice?

Simply this – be present as you walk into or out of your front door.

I’ve been practicing for about 10 days now, and still only succeed in remembering to do it about half the time. Others have posted notes on their doors as reminders, but that seemed like cheating to me. If the point is to be present, then the point is for it to come from inside me. It’s funny, I find that I can be thinking about being present just a few seconds before I open the door, and still forget! Now, I find that the key to the door is becoming an anchor to help me remember. I’m also making myself go through the door again when I forget.

When I do remember, it’s miraculous! My state changes – I become centered and grounded, and much more aware of the energy inside versus outside. Going inside feels like my energy welcoming me. Going outside feels like freedom and opening.

There’s an old Jewish custom of placing a mezuzah, which is basically a small cylinder, containing a prayer, on the door frame of your front door. You’re supposed to kiss it (or at least kiss your fingers and then touch your fingers to it) every time you enter or leave your house. I don’t know much about the official meaning of the mezuzah, but I’ll bet that at some level, its purpose is to bring you present each time you cross the threshold.

Are you willing to try the practice? If you do, let me know, maybe by posting here, what happens for you. Have fun!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Happiness as a practice

Now that you know the specific feelings that you call happiness, you can create them at any time. (Although some times are harder than others!) How do you do that?

It's simple. Just shift the feelings in your body to match the ones that you call "happy". There are 2 ways to do this.

The first is to notice how you feel, and think, "What do I need to shift to be happy?" And do that. I'll use myself as an example. For me, happiness is a combination of being reasonably warm, having my upper body at least moderately relaxed, and a warm, open, almost glowing feeling in my upper chest, above my heart and below the base of my throat. (I"ve heard this area called the peace chakra, but don't really know if that's true.) I maintain the first two pretty easily with clothing and posture, which means I just have to intentionally create the third. I can do that by thinking a positive thought, like, "What a beautiful day" or by intentionally opening the "peace chakra" area.

The second way to shift feelings in your body is what NLPers would call "anchoring the state". Basically, this is getting into the state fully, and linking it to a body position that you only use for this particular state. You do this repeatedly, and then later, when you want to get into the state, you just go into the anchoring body position, and your emotional state will automatically shift to the one you want. (If you want more specific directions on anchoring, send me an email by leaving a comment. If there are a lot of requests, I'll put it on the blog, otherwise I'll just send a private email.)

This, by the way, is a more complete version of the old saw of "just put on a happy face". When you're happy, you smile spontaneously. This associates smiling with happiness, so even when you don't feel happy, if you put on a genuine smile (not that tight little polite one), you will begin to feel happy.

In this way, happiness can become something you cultivate as a practice.

It just occurred to me to try specific times to be happy, like each time I hang up the phone. Eventually, that will just become my way of being.

Friday, February 18, 2005

What to do with your "What I need to be happy" list

Throw it out! (Well, okay, you can keep it for reference, but put it in a drawer somewhere where you won't look at it.)

Now, here's what to do to start being happy:

THINK OF A TIME WHEN YOU WERE REALLY, REALLY HAPPY. Where were you? What was going on? What were you doing? Who was with you, if anyone?

Now, STEP INTO THE SITUATION. Put your body in the position it was in. In your mind's eye, look around the place and see it in great detail. Look down and notice what you were wearing. what do you hear? smell?

NOTICE WHAT YOU FEEL IN YOUR BODY.

Let me repeat that:

NOTICE WHAT YOU FEEL IN YOUR BODY. You are looking only for words that describe bodily feelings, like hot, cold, tense, relaxed, tingly, smooth, rough. Be very specific, not only about the feelings, but also about where you feel them. You may feel warmth in your hands, say, and relaxed in your chest. Or unsettled (butterflies) in your stomach and/or like your head has grown larger. Or whatever. Words like "excited" or "loving" don't count, as they are not body words.

Whatever you feel is what you feel. It's okay, don't judge it. Your happiness will be unique to you.

Again, this should take less than 10 minutes.

Now your homework is to CATCH YOURSELF BEING HAPPY. Just notice when you feel those bodily sensations that you have identified as "happy". That's it!

A President's Day Thought

Presidents' Day reminds me of Washington's Birthday, which reminds me of the Declaration of Independence. This august document reads, in part:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the pursuit of happiness. I just want to be happy! And if you think about it, just the phrase "pursuit of happiness" implies that you are NOT happy.

Happiness is a choice. It's a choice each of us makes -- or not -- every moment of every day.

So for the next blog or two, I'm ging to concentrate on happiness: how to have it, and more importantly, how to be it.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD TAKE FOR YOU TO BE HAPPY? A great relationship? A new car? A lovely home? A job you love? Living your purpose?

Make a complete list -- this should take less than 10 minutes -- and in my next blog, I'll talk about what to do with the list.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I love. Do you?

Many years ago, too many to think about really, I was in love with a guy who wasn't there. Literally. He lived 2,000 miles away, more or less. Now this was in the days before email and ubiquitous cell phones, so we had to content ourselves with letters (remember them?) and the occasional expensive phone call. I was so in love that I would often find myself feeling something warm in my heart, and saying to myself, "I love him."

Then one day, it dawned on me that he wasn't actually present. Whom, exactly, was I in love with? And yet, there I was feeling those feelings. So it wasn't him, or anything he said, or anything he did, that was generating the feelings, but me. It was a thought I had that triggered those delicious feelings. So what I was enjoying was the feeling of loving, which didn't actually require him, or anyone, to be there. And it occurred to me that

"I love" is a complete statement. "I love", period. I love.

No object is necessary. I walked around for a couple of years doing "I love" as a sort of affirmation, though I'm not sure I'd even heard the term at the time. Just saying "I love" to myself, over and over at all times of the day in all circumstances -- walking, showering, standing in the line at the bank.

I began to notice that, at least for me, there is a feeling of being loved, completely separate from the feeling of loving. For me, loving feels like warmth, radiating strongly from my heart, while being loved feels like a (generally weak) warmth in my aura. You'd be surprised where you can feel love returned from when you're putting it out all the time! Animals, plants, rocks, the earth itself, discarnate beings, and oh, yeah, people, too.

Let Valentine's Day be a reminder to you to just love. Loving is truly its own reward.