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Sensory Deprivation Meditation

Sensory Deprivation Meditation


This week the writing is a bit different. The motivation behind this lies in some thought I have been giving to differences in the path of development we all walk. I find that everyone’s methods of self understanding and development are different and their stories of how they got there fascinating. It is one thing for me to write you a How-To guide for dealing with difficult emotions or a list of the top ten meditation methods but it is entirely another to share my own methods and trials with you. My goal in sharing the following is to encourage you to seek your own direct experience, your own truths, and the things that work for YOU.

If in sharing I can inspire you to try something differently or approach your own thoughts in an alternative way, then I have done my job.  I would like to share with you a method of mental processing and meditation which I have developed over a decade. This process is the way I discern, understand and clear out things which I find to be particularly difficult. I am a person driven and inspired by my visual sense, so my word choice and descriptions involve a lot of visualizations and creation of scenes within my mind. The language I use to describe these things are crafted for my own understanding, built in a way that suits me the best. So you may find the narration geared toward the visual aspect simply because that is what I am most in tune with. I encourage you when trying this process to find your own language, that which honors what senses are strongest within you. If you are really in tune (pun intended) with your auditory sense then adjust the exercise. This practice was something I created without really intending to create a practice around it. It began as a way to slow my thinking when I was feeling overstimulated and has evolved into a precise series of actions and thoughts I utilize almost every time I encounter an emotion I am curious about or find myself perplexed by my own reactions.

This method mimics sensory deprivation methods most people familiar with Joe Rogan or isolation float tanks will recognize. The difference here is obviously there is no suspension in water, noise and light are still available to you if you need it. It is as simple as opening your eyes again. There is a convenience to this, however that does not mean this is an easy technique to cultivate. I had been using this method to self soothe for years before I realized the meditation application of it and sometimes I still have trouble. Take your time with this, there is no reason to rush. The best way to avoid being frustrated is to avoid placing your expectations on an experience. You are not seeking to replicate the experience I share with you. You are simply looking to bring your awareness to your own thoughts.

The practice is brings like most meditation:

Go into a quiet and fairly dark room in which you will not be bothered.

Find a position to sit which is comfortable but in which you will not drift off to sleep.

Putting on noise cancelling headphones. I use something that covers my ear entirely.

Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing.

After a while when I feel my heart rate slow down I begin to bring my awareness to the darkness and silence I have created internally and externally. As I sit in that comfortable place I slowly reach toward that which is troubling me. As I touch upon those ideas, feelings or memories, I practice active non judgement. I am simply an observer in what my mind kicks up while still keeping my awareness on the original thought. The purpose of this is not to daydream, it is to bring attention to something that is causing you difficulty and in your observation to find what sort of things it is connected to and why. I approach this time with curiosity and that seems to serve me best. On occasion I fathom something strange, sometimes frightening, but I do my best not to withdraw from the experience. I try to allow the moment happen and simply observe. By far the most powerful piece of this exercise is to simply  allow yourself to space to experience. That is often the area that requires the most practice. After a set time, 20-30 minutes, I  normally write my impressions down, doing my best not to paste judgement on to those things.

My results are often visual images. Sometimes even complex stories come up. By following the rabbit trails within my own mind I often not only find the source of what troubles me, but a sense of closure and calm after this practice. What follows are my  reflections on some difficult feelings I encountered this past weekend and the images and story I found in the process. It is presented in a stream of consciousness writing style which was written after a thirty minute meditation. Writing is also a large part of my process, something I connect to as a way to process and create understanding, and I often document my perceptions after a particularly intense or meaningful session. The writing for me is the synthesis stage of this process. The purpose of all of this is to reflect my inner world to me in an external way. It is a bit fractal-like in it’s application really. I liken it to standing over your own shoulder while reading a book that you wrote. You are the creator as well as the observer of the moments. It is about cultivating mindfulness and a way to slow down in times of stress.

In the next post I shall share some stream of conciseness writing which came after this exercise. I would love to hear about your own experiences using or modifying this tool.

Don’t Over think It

Don’t Over think It


By and large the people we interact with on a daily basis are living reactionary lives. They are responding to stimuli without thinking about where the stimuli came from. Most often I see people reacting to the emotional parts of their lives as though those emotions demonstrate absolute truth. I am sure you have witnessed this in your own life. Perhaps you have a friend who verges on paranoid and tells you stories about how everyone at work is out to get her. Or maybe you know a guy who projects his insecurities onto his partner, causing arguments, which leads to his partners attention being solely on him. This sort of thing is not uncommon but it is incredibly destructive. This behavior comes from our lack of consciousness and understanding surrounding our very self. By and large the consensus tends to be that our thoughts cause our emotions which then influence our actions. I am here this week to challenge that idea. I postulate that emotions happen first, long before our rational mind can organize thoughts. I suggest that because we relegate emotions to the realm of illogical we try to subdue their effect and by doing this we are out of balance. To correct the imbalance we become masters of justification, we wrap thoughts around our emotions and present them to the world as truths. This week I want to share how this is happening and some ways to combat over-thinking.

Someone asked me recently if the goal of mindfulness and awareness was to silence all emotions and be disconnected from responses. I am a combination of amused and horrified by that idea. Often it is more complicated than that, mindfulness first tackles the mind. It wiggles into that part of you that worries, makes lists and over thinks. This is why when we begin addressing inner work to be done that people tend to panic. Who you perceive yourself to be is all wrapped up in your thoughts. The ego is is something that lives deep in the psyche, below thoughts and rationality. Ego lives just underneath our emotions, so an emotional response if often the first way we can react to something. Ego is an old world defense system tied to our limbic system that tells us when we are in danger. But we have become higher level mammals who operate machinery and aren’t afraid of the dark anymore, we no longer recognize the voice of the ego for what it is. Instead we use our prefrontal cortex to invert a story, a WHY behind our phobias, desires and pet peeves.

All of this becomes very complicated when one comes to a point in their life where they want to sort out some of the unproductive habits and beliefs they have created. We are told over and over that to change how we feel we must first change the way we think. The trouble comes when no one provides a second step and people get stuck in a cycle of thought vs emotion. The thing is the mental world is not meant to overpower emotional or intuitive world nor the other way around. Those two are part of the same phenomenon, they are the way your body and mind communicate to you.  If you stifle one you are out of balance. If you are cut off from your body awareness then working with your head is the only place to start. This is because, your thoughts may be the only area you really have awareness of. You can’t work with something that you cannot see, so people often find it easiest to begin with changing thoughts to shift behavior in a more productive direction.

This does not mean that all emotions are true and all our thoughts false. Both are creations. They are part of an inner world we are creating. Sometimes, they are very accurate. Other times they are things we picked up from other people. The purpose here is not to swing into imbalance in the other direction but the bring our focus to the idea that they are the same thing experienced in a different language. So what is the next step then? I suggest we have to give ourselves a safe space to practice and learn to work with the intuitive and emotional worlds. The body and mind are connected and are communicating with you constantly, so your challenge this week if to find out how. What senses do you normally process information through? Do you lean more toward visual and kinesthetic? Are you really in touch with how thoughts feel in the body? Notice how you conventionally process the world around you and then experiment with using other senses that are not so conventional to you to experience stimuli. Remove the expectation that emotions will conform to your thoughts about reality or your view of self. They are different languages, one cannot expect them to use the same syntax or grammar. So when you allow your emotional world to have it’s own space to exist without living them labels of thoughts to wear, I am curious what kind of things come up for you? How is this different from your normal way of processing and functioning? By bringing your awareness to the differences between thought and feeling, what do you begin to notice about your behavior?

Unspoken Locus: Self Love

Unspoken Locus: Self Love


This is the first installment of my combination series of Unspoken Locus. The idea behind this tile is that there are places we do not talk about, and I want to talk about it. Unspoken Locus was motivated by a rejection letter I received from a publisher who enjoyed what I wrote but they actively stayed away from topics of sexuality. So here I want to share with you all the things we aren’t supposed to communicate about to our partners, to our self and to our culture around us. This is a broad subject and will probably reach into sexuality, society and the realms of self. The topics presented here are probably a little not safe for work. My goal is to present that which we do not talk about with awareness and mindfulness and see where we wind up. The second goal is to shine the light of humor on these ideas. I want to disenfranchise the hidden ideas and that which isn’t polite and bring about a more open conversation.

I have a vivid memory of this moment in my teen years in which my basketball team mates were discussing sex. Now there is nothing strange about teenage girls talking about sex. In fact that is kind of standard of high school experience; talking about sex with people who often know next to nothing. Misinformation was everywhere. Given that I grew up in rural North East Texas whose idea of sex education was akin to the scene with Coach Carr in “Mean Girls”.
“Don’t have sex. Because you will get pregnant. And Die!”-there was not a lot of accurate free flowing information.


Several sex-negative speakers had recently made the rounds at assemblies, talking at length about the dangers of having sex, pornography and STD’s. They also seemed to be really fond of suggesting that women be quiet and follow the lead of their (equally clueless ) boyfriends because one that will be similar to how their future household will function. Awesome…Follow the lead is the sex ed we give to women. At least it was where I grew up. (One of these speakers, Justin Lookadoo, is famous for his message of “’Dateable Girls Know How to Shut Up’, was recently arrested for public intoxication by the way.) There was no sex-education program to speak up, though there was a health class which consisted mostly of showing us pictures of late stage syphilis and outbreaks of herpes. The point is, it was 2004 and we were all clueless. Adults seemed content to dodge the issue with abstinence only education and despite all of that it seemed that everyone my age was having sex. Or at least claiming they were. In this particular locker-room conversation we were listening to our point-guard describe sex with her boyfriend who was about three years older than we were. Tantalizing. I do not remember the entire conversation but there is one part of it which remains with me to this day. Our friend was describing going down on her boyfriend, tastes, smells, all of that wonderful stuff. And another girl asked her if he ever returned the favor and went down on her. “No! Of course not. He would never do that, he says it’s gross. And it makes men gay.”

Suddenly in that one sentence I discovered the first seeds of doubt which would later grow into a forest of skepticism. Even at fourteen that seemed like a really backward and bigoted thought to express. I do not remember asking her anything about this mindset, but I still think about it. Where did such an idea come from? Where was it born? Did he tell her outright that performing oral sex on women was gross? Was it simply a preference of his? Or was it just more misinformation he had picked up from his peers? Or was his distaste for the activity seen in actions, an avoidance of the subject that convinced her that her own body was some how gross? I know I encountered this same sort of sentiment not long after this with my first partners. The idea that “I don’t go down on girls” was a perfectly acceptable and even admirable thing for men to to say was prevalent. I know now this is something that people who are not really my cup of tea say and I am not going to dive into the partisan nonsense of that mindset. We shall leave that for another article. No one should feel pressure to perform sexual activities they do not enjoy. Everyone has their preferences, and I am not here to shame anyone. But the entire concept seemed so weirdly biased as well as set in stone. For some thing we were not supposed to talk about there certainly were a lot of goofy rules.

I still encounter strangely rigid perspectives on sexuality as an adult. Especially concerning masturbation. Among men, masturbation is joked about but kind of part of the status quo. So while there still may be shame and a weird view on male sexuality, masturbation is pretty much an acceptable activity in our culture. Typically there is boasting about how they never ever need to because of how much “tail” they receive, or how once again only socially inept folks need self love, but it is still understood that it is acceptable for a man to jerk it if he so chooses. Whereas the female population seems to be on lock-down as far as masturbation is concerned. I don’t know any woman who in having the sex talk with their parents ever heard a single word about auto stimulation. I have heard remarks made to young boys about spending too much time in the shower, or leaving semen encrusted socks on their floor. Which again adds to a certain shameful viewpoint around sexuality, but at least someone is talking about it. There are people my age who adamantly deny having ever tried, often admonishing such activity as “disgusting”. I am baffled.

My goal here is not to take on the establishment, or bash small town education, I cannot command parents to talk to their children about sex, I cannot make conservative public school stop hiring sex negative speakers to strike fear into the minds of teenagers. My goal here is to approach this topic with awareness. And ask a very important question; where is the love? And why is self love still so taboo? I say we start a self love revolution! I say that instead of burning bras we spend some time loving ourselves! How can another person truly satisfy us if we have no idea how to satisfy the self? The answer to that last question by the way is: they can’t. The human body is a beautiful, complicated Rubik’s cube and lack of sex positivity only makes it more difficult to begin to enjoy someone else. So I challenge you this week, go enjoy your partners! Go enjoy yourself!

I still wonder about that point guard at times. I know she is a beautiful young lady with a son and all that. But mostly I wonder if she still perceives that awesome act of reciprocating oral sex to someone you think is awesome to be unacceptable?

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.


Perspective on Stress

Perspective on Stress


In light of the holidays and the inevitable stress they bring I wanted to write a bit about how one manages stress and cultivates patience within situations. Ideally I wanted to post this prior to Christmas, because I imagined it is something that could have been helpful. There was only one problem…I didn’t feel stressed. I was a little tired but not stressed. Intellectually I knew what stress felt like, I know the symptoms and I am pretty familiar with how they manifest within me, but every time I sat down to write about how I was dealing with it it felt flat. The whole thing was pretty interesting. Sometimes the brain forgets painful times so that we don’t live in constant fear of them I suspect. So I waited for stress, saturated myself in it, and decided to publish after I figured out what to do with it. So here I am post holiday, to speak to you a bit about the most helpful method of stress reduction I encountered when approaching times that are outside the comfort zone.

Stress is simply put, your body’s response to events which make your feel threatened. This can be a physical threat like a tiger standing in your living room or a car almost smashing your while you ride your bike. Or it can be something perceived to be threatening, such as walking into a new job where you do not know anyone, or perhaps having house guests. The body then begins to release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. These cause several very neat things to begin to happen in your body. Your heart rates will increase, muscles to tighten, blood pressure rises, breathing speeds and your senses to become sharper. All of this occurs in order to prepare for your to fight the threat or run from it. It basically turns you into a super hero for a few minutes. This is not a response we are looking to turn off, it is something that keeps your out of danger. However the after effect of these hormones, especially if we have this reaction several times a day for a few years can wreck havoc on the body and mind. So what we often seek to do is find a way to “deal”. We seek to either dampen then sensations or burn off the excess energy we are left with.

There are a million and a half ways suggested to manage stress. From keeping a journal of what triggers your stress, to eating a few xanex, to going for jogs, everyone has their own thing. A quick Google search shows me that people are seeking for anyway to make this feeling stop. There are hundreds of self help articles and dozens of medications associated with this topic. I am not here to suggest a permanent solution. I have methods of trying to make the feelings associated with stress productive. Most of the ways I deal surround my meditation practice and exercise routine, but they are far from perfect. I still become anxious, I grind my teeth, body language becomes closed off, and my voice gets this weird tightness to it. That is not a fun person to be around and more than that it is not a fun person to be. So what can you do aside from deep breathing and a few hundred push-ups?

This holiday I resolved to try on a new philosophy. I could not change what was going to happen, and once the brain perceives a threat I cannot effectively stop the chemical process, but I could change how I was thinking. And through the shift in gears of though I was seeking to interrupt the spiral of anxiety which follows a stress reaction. I figured there were going to be times I was going to feel pressure and outside of my comfort zone, so when those situations happened instead of pulling inward and beginning to analyze what would happen if I tried to learn something? Learning is one of my great loves and a wonderful source of motivation for me. It was a neat thought. What would happen if in the times I felt most uncomfortable I immediately began to look for opportunity to learn something I did not know. What occurred for me was a shift almost immediately. When I felt myself disconnect from a conversation I would mentally say the word “Opportunity” to myself. So before the closed off body language even began to happen I had already found something that reengaged my attention. So rather than letting your eyes glaze over when your racist Aunt Betty begins a diatribe, turn toward her and really listen. Listen for neat words she uses, listen to the tone, ponder what experiences occurred that helped shaped that view. Most people speak because they want their perspectives validated by other people. You do not have the validate behavior or perspectives you do not agree with, but there is a wonderful power in listening. It demonstrates a respect of the moment. If you look for opportunities you suspend the judgement of that person and begin to engage like a human being. And that is the real purpose of this activity, not to find a magic way to deal, but to begin to engage with others like a human being even when the situation or conversation is not ideal. Because when you think about it, when is a situation ideal? There are no perfect moments, and rarely does someone us up for an easy lay up. So rather than waiting for a perfect moment in which we will suddenly become a perfectly balanced being, we put some effort into making the moments we do have pretty rad.

What then is the takeaway from all of this? What came to my mind was that this seeking opportunities mindset was beneficial even outside of the situations which i felt uncomfortable, it could be used to make moments which were good even better. I began to think about my Co-creation of relationships idea, and how most of that was focused on conversations to be had in quiet moments, in a controlled environment. As I reflected on the times over the holidays I had engaged in a conversation or situation I was not fully bought into, I thought that I wanted to approach pleasant conversations and little adventures with my partner with the same intensity. I want to actively listen to him with the same compassion and lack of judgement. Here is a fantastic person who I want to spend all of my time with and who better to really focus the lessons of opportunities on? And I think that is a pretty neat realization to come out of a week I was positively dreading.

Setting Intentions

Setting Intentions


This week I want to speak at length about intention setting. I am finding that in most of my writing, coaching and general conversations I am having these days, invariably intention comes up with a vengeance.  I am finding that conflicts of consciousness and dissonance surrounding a situation often surfaces simply because no one in the situation put forth any intent. I find it  little unnerving walking around in social environments with people who feel they do not have a choice, who are floating on tides rather than fashioning a raft. I suspect some of the lack of intention setting and simply saying what one wants in a given situation comes from the desire to feel accepted and comfortable within a social group. I suspect this is reverting to victim thought patterns disguised as tolerance. I have found myself in these situations many times in the last few years of my growth often when there are some old thought patterns or habits I was trying to shed, where I remain in an environment with around activity that is not congruent with my current model of where I want to go. Then I experience this dysphoria and angst because I feel by not saying what I want, or just changing the environment, I allowed my values to be inadvertently violated. So this week I wanted to address correcting incongruence in lifestyles by implementing a simple intention setting and communication method. So here I want to give you some tools to address finding an intention message and what to do with it once you have it.

First let me differentiate between goals and intentions. Goal setting is a vital part of the coaching process, and is the organization of your future world based on your actions today. Goals are end points. Intention is the map of HOW we are going to reach those goals. Intention setting deals in the realm of the now. In the realm of being in the current moment we make choices that affects future us! Now consider one of those moments where you found yourself in a situation where you felt your values were violated but you had not expressed a desire to change it, you had been attempting to go with the flow, or perhaps upon further reflection you simply changed your mind.

This can apply to anything, maybe it is your partner going somewhere without you,maybe it is people asking to smoke a cigarette  in your car, or maybe someone has volunteered your to stay late at work. Everyone has interactions like this, I am sure you can bring to mind moments you felt as though you were screaming inside but had this fake smile plastered all over your face. Maybe you even answered an inquiry with the ubiquitous “I am fine.”  If you make no intentions, if you do not communicate your desires, if you do not set boundaries, if you do not stand up and make some choices, what sort of life are you going to live? My suspicion is one that feels like wearing someone else’s skin. And that is gross. I am here to challenge you to stop with the “I am fine.”

So I am throwing down the challenge to you today: I want you to come up with a clear intentional statement for something this week. There is nothing metaphysical about this, there is no law of attraction going on here. All I want you to do is set a guiding principle for yourself. This may take some time to create and you may edit it until it feels perfect. Write it down, draw it, compose a concerto, whatever works for you. Put it as a reminder on your phone, a sticky note on your mirror, in your wallet, somewhere you have to confront the message often. I will share my own with you for the week: “I commit to stepping outside of my comfort zone. I will embrace adventure.” Now this is very vague and comfortable.This could apply to travel or relationships or anything. What could improve this intention is specifics. In what area of my life am I seeking to grow? What this statement is referring to is my anxiety surrounding networking events. So to make this statement more specific I could say: “I will attend two different networking events each week and at these events I will speak to five people.” This confronts the comfort zone and adventure while making it a specific, measurable and attainable goal. I KNOW when I have completed this. That is the kind of intention you are seeking to create. The second part of this is conversation. Tell someone about your intention. And if you are really brave ask them to hold you accountable. Have them ask you about your progress. Accountability makes the intention a little more solid, there is not so much wiggle room to evade the things that we do not want to do. Often people struggle with the balance of expressing their intentions and being abrasive. I have seen people make a hell of a stand on something in a completely inappropriate tone or setting. And I am here to tell you that is okay, it will happen. Practice. And practice speaking from a place of compassion rather than conflict. You are not going to war with your own life, you are just setting up some guides for yourself along the way.

So now you have your intention, you have your accountability, now what? What happens when you stand your ground on something and the status quo of your relationships begins to change? I want to speak a little bit about judgement and acceptance. There are so many times I have rolled over let behavior slide for the sake of being easy going. I like to tell myself “I accept other peoples behavior and choices, even if they are not my own. Everyone is cool, It’s all good.” There is some truth to that I am sure, but a large amount of my tolerating is really garbage. I am doing it because I want to be accepted and feared the judgment of others. That desire for someone to validate me and accept is detrimental to my growth. This part of the article is to acknowledge that when you begin releasing that need for affirmation from other people you begin to shift into your realm of genius. When you decide it is okay to drift away from some people, it is okay for relationships to change you open the path to growth.