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Month: January 2015

Get out of your comfort zone!

Get out of your comfort zone!


I made a promise to myself in December. My goal was not only to create and grow a business but to grow myself as well. As a result of that I committed to myself that once a week I will seek an experience that really pushes me out of my comfort zone. And as an added challenge, it cannot be the same experience each time. So each week I seek out an activity, event, or situation which makes me want to shrink into a tiny ball and stay home in a blanket. Do you know what I am discovering? To go a little Disney on you, a whole new world! I am doing things I have never done before, that I was terrified to do, and I am not spontaneously combusting. Shocking, I know. In fact each week I see growth in myself, I see my behavior and my perspectives changing in ways I hoped for but never imagined would actually happen. I was always envious of people who could go out dancing by themselves. Or go to an event without a buddy. Or have a picture taken of themselves and not feel like cringing. They seemed like Valkyries to me, powerful beings not at the effect of the flux of life. What I wanted was to wake up one day and just BE that person, I wanted someone to hand that to me without having to work for it. When I write that all out it is apparent how ridiculous that thought is. I am big into self development and discipline, where did I get the idea that someone just giving me some confidence was a reasonable thing? That is a perfect example of how we get in our own way. This week my challenge to you is to get out of your own way, get out of your comfort zone, and do something you have never done!

Adventure never happens inside our comfort zone. By that same measure neither does growth. So if your goal is to feel safe, non adventurous, and small, then by all means snuggle up in that comfort zone. It fits you perfectly, like your favorite sweater. Recognize however that while people may pass through your comfort zone you will rarely engage with them in a real way, because they have place to go and things to do. The comfort zone is not an actualized, aware way of living. It is a place to heal, perhaps lick your wounds from your last bull ride, and then stand up and move forward from. Pushing your level of comfort  feels like a lot of things. Worry, anxiety, the desire to throw up and run away. Worrying is like making a bet against yourself. Why in the world would you do that?

Imagine your comfort zone like a personal bubble that surrounds you at all times. It is your personal zone of influence. You affect things within that space and conversely those things within that space reach out and touch you too. So when something or someone enters our zone of influence without permission or simply when we are not ready that personal bubble will contract. Sometimes you can almost see the energy of a person who is having their comfort zone violated draw inward. This is a protection method we have developed since we were children. It is how we make ourselves feel safe and small. If we pull away from the new person or experience they cannot injure us. Conversely that same bubble of comfort can expand, shift and envelope a new person or experience. This can happen when we go on a date with someone we like for the first time, when we walk into room filled with strangers, or when we begin a conversation about a tricky topic. So what is the difference in these two reactions? It is intention!

The Challenge
I want you to think about your intention next time you feel like putting on your comfort zone blanket. Next time you are venture out to an event alone and are positive that no one wants to talk to you, check your zone. What does it feel like at that moment? So my challenge to you is: Once this week I want you to put yourself outside your comfort zone in a big way. If you are terrified to talking to women, I want you to sign up for speed dating. If you would rather be lit on fire before walk into a room filled with folks you do not know, then I want you to get online and find a meetup group about a topic you really dig. The thing is I do not just want you to go do this scary thing filled with fear and resentment, I want you to check your intention and have an amazing time.

The Method
When you get to your event or situation and you find your comfort zone beginning to feel a little stretched I want you to ask yourself two things. First: “What do I want to feel right now?” This is a reminder first that you do get a choice in what you feel and how to respond. Next decide what that feeling you are going to cultivate is going to be. Got it? Now I want you to ask yourself: “What is a more supportive action I can take at this moment?” This brings choice to mind yet again but as a reminder than you are not just reacting to stuff that happens to you. You are not floating on the tides of the world like a twig. You are a mighty viking sailing toward a new land and you know exactly what you are doing!

The method I have given you here works. I use it all the time to shift the attitude or behavior of myself and clients. The trick is you have to practice. You cannot push the comfort zone one time and suddenly be the viking you always dreamed of being. You have to keep doing this. You must practice. Breaking habits is difficult especially when they are related to that which makes us feel safe and the ego unperturbed. However the life that lies on the other side of that comfort zone is so worth it.

No Bullshit Guide: Treat yo’ Self!

No Bullshit Guide: Treat yo’ Self!


We are surrounded by messages that tell us to drive this car or pursue that type of woman or listen to this guru because those things will make us happy. So much adult life is about those things that will poof into our world and make us shiny happy folks. Those external thing swill make us sexy, skinny, happy humans. I am here to tell you that is grade a horse-hocky, (As my grandmum was fond of saying.) We exist in a world full of grasping craving coveting people and the big secret is: You do not have to play along with them. You can play a different game, with transparency, no secret nonsense and awesome people. With all of this pressure to perform and conform our outlets to blows off steam tend to me a bit unhealthy. I for one drink too much wine. So this week I give to you: My No Bullshit Guide to treating your self in a healthy and productive way.

Principle one: Discover what lives at the center of YOU. 

I don’t care who your parents told you you are. I don’t care who your boss or friends think you are. I want you to sit down for a moment, take some moments to reflect and ask yourself if you are happy. If you are one of very few who said yes, that is awesome! If you are one of the many who said “…well…no I guess not. But I would be happy if I had that thing/person/idea over there.”
No. Stop. That is some conceptual programming if I have ever heard it. You are not happy because we have no idea who we are or what we want. We cannot be because we have spent so much time filling our lives with stuff that the hasn’t been a moment to contemplate the heart, mind, or being. What do you think you really want? What would happen if you could take your self out for a cup of coffee this week? What sort of things would you ask each other? What do you think you would learn? What other relationship in the world is more important that the one with yourself? And yet we continue to drift out of touch with it. So your homework this week is to take your happy ass on a date. You are doing on a date with yourself, for yourself. I want to know what comes up for you. What sort if things do you enjoy? What makes you laugh? What makes you terribly anxious? Go date yourself, you will be an expert at the end.


Principle two: Stop judging yourself

We spend so much time telling ourselves all about our short comings. I like to tell myself I am a giant amazon woman who doesn’t know how to wear makeup and there are probably leaves in my hair. That sort of self talk is beyond pointless. None of those attributes are negative until I place that judgement upon them. So I am an amazon and there are probably sticks in my hair. So what? I a human being on a different journey. It truly is pointless to wind myself up with these fears that other people are judging me. No one is paying attention to you right now. Really. In fact they rarely are. Because they are all very concerned with the idea that someone is judging them. So give yourself a bit of a break. Your home work for this Treat Yo- Self week has to do with fearlessness. Out on a piece of clothing you think is amazing but while wearing it you are afraid of the attention. See how it feels when the behavior is validated. If someone says your shirt, hair, make up, whatever is some how against the social contract does it change who you are as a human being? No man, it doesn’t. You are free when you let go of judgement!

Principle three: Align your values

If in your external world you spend a lot of your weekends going to bars with friends and entertaining dates but inside your long to be a painter, that my friend is a conflict of values. Or perhaps a lot of your social group smokes a lot of ganja but you really don’t want to be around it, so to be polite you just don’t say anything. Values conflict. My question to you would be why? Who are you doing all of that external stuff for if what you really want to be doing is completely fulfilling to you? Normally that comes from the want to be polite or to not feel as though we are on the outside of our peer group.

Your homework for Treat Yo’ Self weekend is when all of your buds are getting ready to start the pub crawl, step outside your comfort zone and say “No thank you man. I have plans.” Then I want you to do whatever it is your heart has been craving this whole time. Maybe binge read a book, maybe take the dogs to the park, maybe even take a long nap. I will be curious as to how that feels!

I challenge you to get out there and look within and let me know what you find! Come up with your own exercises and solutions and get back to me! I am excited to see what you come up with this week. So many of us have angst within our hearts and bodies, we suffer inwardly at work and then come home to express to our partners the grouchiest grouch ever. Maybe they deserve a break to. So this weekend, Treat Yo’ Self to some time, to some introspection and some peace!



No Excuses

No Excuses


How often do you find yourself coming up with a million reasons why you cannot get started? How easy is it to find plenty of excuses to put something off? We are experts at crafting stories about our own lives and why things do not work out. It is easy to accept a version of reality that is simply a tale we told our self so we didn’t have to dig deep and do something scary. What sort of life does that leave us with? One that is not terrible fulfilling I imagine. Perhaps it is the post holiday blahs or maybe new years resolutions starting to seem huge to people but I have been hearing a lot of excuses this week so I wanted to share my one sentence solution to laying them to the side.

Recently I attend a lot of networking events to meet new people and broaden my social circle. When I describe my career path, and the types of things being a life coach entails, I find that people tune in and listen intensely. People see themselves when I describe the types of changes I bring to action in my own life and the lives of my clients. It is like I am describing a beverage and they have been walking in the desert. They have want in their eyes. Sometimes they even remark simply: “Yeah…I want that.” People are even more excited to pick my brain for the best ideas to be taken from self development. This line of questioning often leads to me asking them what their goals are regarding their personal change, what sort of things keep them up at night, and really what they are using the tool of self development to obtain.The answers vary from feeling unfulfilled in their relationships to seeking balance during a time of transition. I have found that no matter the central issue, whenever people ask what they should do, there is a neat thing that occurs a vast majority of the time. When I inquire what steps they have already taken in the direction of their goal I am met with the same answer every time: “I want to but I dont have time.” “It is a lot of work, and I have this project due.” “If someone could just wave a wand and make it happen…” “I don’t think I can because…”
I hear a lot about what people are going to do tomorrow, after breakfast, when the time is right, when all the ducks are in a row. In other words I hear a mountain of excuses every single day. There are a million excuses to be found if you are actively looking for them. And those excuses root you to the current reality. They anchor your to average existence. If you do not attempt you cannot fail. There is comfort in that, I understand. The thing is there is never a perfect time and all the ducks are never in a row. So why are you waiting? Why are you making excuses? What is standing in your way of getting it? My guess is probably a stack of your excuses.

When I began to notice the barrage of excuses occurring I made it a point to follow up with those same people one month later. Inexplicably these people had not started toward their goal. They were exactly where they were as when I had inquired the first time. I found the prevalence of that to be scary. These people are all outwardly successful, driven individuals. As we delve into their reasons I noticed a few underlying trends. All of these people were experiencing paralysis by analysis, which seemed to stem from the fear of failing. These cases stood out to me not only because I was encountering so many but because the things holding these people back were purely internal. The only thing standing in their way was them. So this week I wanted to dive into how to stop making excuses and get on with it.(Whatever it is for you currently.) When we discuss the fear of failure we will almost always be talking about people who are successful. They go to work, pay their bills, finished college, they have a dog. By and large these folks take pride in what they have accomplished and devote a large amount of energy to maintaining that status. If their goal is a bit out of the norm they freeze up and fall into inaction. It is okay to talk about always having wanted to become a chef, or start a website or blog about music, but it is something else entirely to actually do it. There is something unique to successful people that paralyzes them when they begin to attempt things that may jeopardize that image of what success is. You can always find a reason not to pursue your dreams. We can rationalize and justify almost anything. These are just more stories we tell ourselves about our life. The only reason that is reality is because you want it to be.

So for today I wanted to share my single favorite method for tearing away excuses and diving into what you love. What i love about it is the simplicity. When I find myself surrounded my excuses about how much time I do not have or what I am going to start next week I ask myself one question: What is the worst things that could happen if you started right now? Odds are that the answer is nothing. The worst thing that could happen if i began right this second is that I would have begun. There is nothing huge to invest, the house isn’t going to catch on fire, I will have simply begun my project. That is it! And every step of the way I can modify that simple question to jump start me again. As you use this tool it becomes easier to see that the only thing that holds you back is yourself. It is okay to be afraid, it is okay to be terrified even, but it is not okay to become anchored to average because of it. Now get out there and kick twelve kinds of ass.

Post Meditation Angst: Where did this mess come from?

Post Meditation Angst: Where did this mess come from?



“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.”
Alexis Carrel

The alarm sounds quietly, a preprogrammed set of chimes from my phone, indicating the end of my meditation for this evening. Unfolding my legs I become aware of excited voices of people in the other room, muffled words but excited tones, and I imagine they are fully engaged in a level of Halo. Closing my eyes again I find myself longing for the sense of connection they share, perplexed by the sense of separation which has entered my mind within moments of calling my practice to a halt. What gives, man? Just a second ago we were one with the universe and now you feel lonely? If you really believed that you were part of all the things…how could you possibly feel alone?
What a question. I have been practicing meditation and mindfulness for nineteen years, my ego screams for dear life on occasion still. So this week I wanted to reach out to those of you with an established practice who have run into the existential angst which comes to visit sometimes.

Meditation and mindfulness practice is a refuge. It is a space I open for myself twice daily, a stillness I allow myself to exist within for a set amount of time. I practice to cultivate that stillness within, to remind myself in moments of chaos that I have never been apart from that stillness I seek. However there are moments like today where I bring my practice to a close and there is a space within my chest which aches. Sometimes I look up from practice and I am afraid. Terrified of the vast weight of the universe all around me, and the tiny nature of what I consider to be “me”. In the quiet just after practice and just before I engage in my life again I feel alone. It is almost humorous how quickly my ego or self or whatever you call it, rushes in and begins to clamor for attention. There is no other activity I partake in which makes my capital “I” self begin to gripe quite like meditation. I am always in awe of how threatened my image of self must be to begin complaining that we are disconnected and alone after twenty minutes of sitting quietly in a room.

In the beginning the worries and complaints I hear from people about mindfulness practices fall two categories. First the: My mind won’t be quiet/sitting still is difficult variety. And secondly the: I am wasting time variety. The restlessness passes. It is akin to a workout routine, at first it feels difficult but as you become accustomed to the work it becomes easier. Meditation feels strange to the mind and body because often you have never used them in this way before. What I do not mention is that once you get past the initial strangeness of beginning a meditation practice there is a whole world of strange mental textures that present themselves. There is a whole world of difficult to describe weirdness that lives in that space between mind and body. Most of which has a lot to do with the capital “I”, ego, perceived self, freaking out because moving away from attachment and distraction is threatening to that idea of self. It is the definition of existential panic.

There are a few articles and books out there that address the angst of post meditation, but I felt that much of what I was reading fell into the category of phantasmagoria. Even some of the conversations I had with mentors seemed to fall into this very strange space. Much of it centered on “Well it will pass after a few years, when your connection with god is stronger it won’t happen, and coming back to the real world is sad for all of us.” I do not feel this addresses the root of the experience nor does it provide a solution to those experiencing. I am not so concerned with the “why” it is happening. It simply is. What I was seeking is a way to continue that mindfulness in moments that are unpleasant. That is the goal of my practice, to find a way to apply the Buddha mind I find within the times that I sit to my other life where I wear a suit, drive a car and feed the cat.

Mindfulness does not end when the timer goes off. I seek to apply the non judgment I have cultivated within meditation to my emotions and thoughts as we. So as you become aware of your angst, simply notice the feelings of negativity without judgment. Take a friendly interest in these thoughts. Rather than approaching them as something to be eliminated, think of sitting down to tea with those feelings and hearing what they have to say. Through years of practice I have gotten to know my own emotions intimately and have learned to pay attention to them as they are often trying to remind me of something. I challenge you to turn toward that which is a little uncomfortable or strange as growth never occurs within our comfort zone. It is okay to experience discomfort in our practice, it is a reminder that we are changing. There is always pain to be found in growth but that is no reason to turn away. Venture forth and see what you discover.

Developing Intuition

Developing Intuition


Lately I have become quite fascinated by the idea of intuition. Most people have experienced those strange glimpses of insight into a person or situation which seem to come from nowhere. Perhaps the phone rings and you know exactly who is on the line before you answer, perhaps you get feelings that someone is being dishonest with you, or maybe you wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden clarity about a central issue you are facing. Sometimes they present as flashes of knowing, spontaneous wisdom, or gut feelings. This concept appears as an odd sort of self referencing loop. It strikes me that intuition is rooted deeply consciousness and as such it becomes abstract and weird very quickly. It is like chasing waves that crash onto the beach, each time I turn toward the idea it begins to recede from my understanding. It exists until I begin trying to pin it down and tinker with it. Myers-Briggs describes intuition as one paying attention to the impressions or the meaning and patterns of the information, not necessarily the literal meaning of information. It is the synthesis of the abstract. It is the ability to gain understanding without need for conscious reasoning. Nothing amazes me quite like a subject which changes behavior as you observe them, so I began to develop some ways to practice understanding my own intuition. In my learning I found no shortage of advice which struck me as metaphysical nonsense so this week I wanted to share my no nonsense guide to recognizing and developing intuition.

How do we practice developing something which is very abstract? I began with finding situations in which I felt intuition kick in and observing how I perceived the experience.  Luckily I spend a large percentage of my time speaking to people about the things that keep them up at night and the dreams they have for their future. The conversation space of the future, of goals and desires, provides a wonderful space for exploring the abstract. It is my experience that everything we do is like a signature and most people are showing you exactly who they are in every word and gesture. Intuition shows up to me as very fleeting insight, much like microexpressions passing across a persons face. I liken it to echolocation within a very dark chasm; one sends out a pulse and builds a picture of the surroundings based on what bounces back. In this instance that pulse is normally an open ended question, something meant to cause the other person to think for a second. I found that the answer they returned to me was not the only thing I gained understanding from. The tone of their voice, the pauses they chose to take, pronunciation, and the way their face moved as they spoke, all of those things exist in the realm of intuition. Those are things we are all picking up, understanding and synthesizing quicker than we really know. Think of all the things you know that are never spoken directly. It is a sense we are using all the time. What happens if we bring awareness to the activity? How do your interactions change? I have found there are two basic components to the development of any task: Intention and Attention

Exercise One: Intention

The neat thing about this practice is you do not need anything special to being. Our goal here is to set the intention for learning and turning toward understanding and learning begins with observation and listening. In the next interaction you have, the next conversation you begin, I want you look in their eyes and listen to them. I mean it, that is where we begin. And I meant I want you to actively listen to that other human being rather than waiting for your turn to speak. The goal isn’t to fill the silence with worthless conversation. The goal is to hear what they are saying. Think about the way you avidly listen to someone to have a crush on and apply it to your next interaction. I challenge you to first maintain eye contact with this person for the entirety of the conversation and secondly to actively listen to this person. For those of you who are feeling particularly adventurous I challenge you to bring the same intention to all of your conversations for an afternoon, treat no interaction as disposable. Make eye contact with everyone you are interacting with and listen to them attentively.

Exercise Two Attention

As you pay attention to the presence of intuition you will be able to bring it into the foreground. So in the second exercise I would now like you to turn your awareness to your interactions from the previous exercise. What did it feel like to approach interaction in that manner? What sort of things did you notice? What does the experience differ from previous ones now that you have brought your attention to the activity? Everyone has their own ways of bringing awareness to an activity, for myself it is normally writing. I use a journal to document the moments in my day where intuition seems to shine through. This sort of documenting helps me keep track of certain types of situation that my intuition becomes known to me, what sort of sensations, and allows me to take note of my responses.

Optional Exercise: With Friends!

For those of you who work well in groups, or happen to have good friend who enjoy adventures into the abstract, I suggest recruiting an intuition buddy! This is someone you can speak to in a space of non judgement and openness about your intuitive experiences. Some fun things to try out with your buddy may be:

  • Take a nature walk and discuss something one of you is feeling very passionate about. Your buddy then gives you the intuitive impressions they have perceived.
  • Go to a public place and do some people watching. Discuss your perceptions of the people you encounter.
  • Play “Two truths and a Lie”. Each person tell two statements that are true and one statement that is a lie, and your buddy has to determine which is which.

This is a space for both of your to bring intention and attention to the activity so I challenge you to treat it like any discipline. Try to limit distractions like your phone. Commit to intuition activities a set amount of time each week, even if it is only for twenty minutes. I encourage you to seek interesting conversations and activities in which to develop your sense of intuition.