Integral eco-archetypal image

Integral eco-archetypal image
Integral eco-archetypal image

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Marking two huge milestones!!!


The good news is that

1. I have not eaten any chocolate for 180 days! and
2. I passed the standard written MFT (marriage and family therapy) exam by using all
of the skills I have learned as a life coach.

Yes, I was fully prepared, present mindful and confident,
clear, coherent and confident but...

I had also prepared physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for this exam.
I can share with you without any hesitation that the spiritual support I received
took me over the finish line.

Here's what happened:

I enrolled in the appropriate test prep workshop and took them four times.
I spent weekends taking the online practice tests and a mock exam.
I listened to all the CDs on the exam content.
I studied the prep workbook to review all of the content.

On the day of the exam, I spent a glorious morning walking and
running on the beach after spending the Thanksgiving four day weekend studying.
I spent another hour and a half doing a quick review before lunch. Then I drove to the test site.

On entering the test room and getting myself situated, I took a few minutes to invoke the Light and the Grace of the One, and started the test.

Sixty minutes into the four hour test, I was already 13-15 questions behind because I was perseverating over getting the right answers....So, that meant that I spent the next two hours trying to catch up. In the final hour, I was still the same number of questions behind and I did not know how I was going to pass the exam since I didn't think I was going to complete the exam in time. I did not have time to take a break or a breather even though the workshop instructor had recommended that we do this several times to fight fatigue and the loss of concentration.

In my case, I was fighting the clock and decided I had to speed read by just getting the gist of the questions - not to get the answers right but - to complete the exam in order to improve my chances of passing.

It was in the final hour that many in my spiritual circles sent out spiritual support and somehow, quite miraculously, I was able to complete the exam by answering
the last question in the last minute!

I am providing this level of detail to highlight the need we all have for spiritual support and succor. I am grateful to all those who were holding me in the light.

I still have one more exam to write before I achieve my dream of being licensed as a psychotherapist!

Love, light and shadow,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Affirmations to banish doubt!

I am preparing for my Marriage and Family Therapy state licensing exams and, like a lot of people, I keep experiencing self-doubt based on my present performance on the online practice tests.

Wayne Dyer, in his book, "The Power of Intention" says that it is important to:

"Banish Doubt. When doubt is banished, abundance flourishes and anything is possible. We all tend to use our thoughts to create the world we choose. If you doubt your ability to create the life you intend, then you're refusing the power of intention. Even when nothing seems to indicate that you're accomplishing what you desire in your life, refuse to entertain doubt. Remember,the trolley strap of intention is waiting for you to float up and be carried along.

Shakespeare declared, "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." And Ramana Maharshi observed, "Doubts arise because of an absence of surrender."

You may well choose to doubt what others say to you or what you experience with your senses, but banish doubt when it comes to knowing that a universal force of intention designed you and got you here! Don't doubt your creation from a field of energy that's always available to you." (2004, pp. 33-34)

In my view, denying our doubts is easier said than done because we do hear voices from our different sub-personalities which attempt to self-sabotage our intentions. My own strategy is to develop a heart statement or an affirmation that replaces negative self-talk with positive self-talk and self-motivation. Here's my affirmation around my state licensing exams:

"By being fully prepared, present and mindful,
clear, coherent and confident,
It is my purposeful intention
to successfully pass my MFT exams
For the highest good of all concerned!"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Screw it, Let's do it!"

Having just had the pleasure in early September of experiencing Virgin Atlantic's services from Los Angeles to London and back, I was curious to know how the founder of Virgin Airways went from being a music record producer to the owner of an airline and a knighthood. Here's the Virgin Airways story from the horse's mouth, Sir Richard Branson:

"I had spent all our cash on signing up bands in Jamaica. But I had heard that if you were looking for a house on an island, you would get a grand tour, free of charge. I phoned an estate agent in the British Virgin Islands. I said I owned a record company and wanted to buy an island to build a studio on it.

'Please come as our guests. We have lots of lovely islands for sale. We'll show you around.'

Joan and I flew to the British Virgin Islands. We were treated like royalty. A big car met us at the airport and took us to a villa. It was like being in paradise. The next day a helicopter was waiting to take us on a tour. We skimmed over green palm trees and a blue sea. We landed on one lovely island after the other. We toured fantastic private estates and had a great time. We spun our free holiday out as long as we could, but at last we were running out of islands for sale.

We asked the agent if he had something that we hadn't seen.

'Yes, there's one, a real little jewel,' he said.

'It's miles from anywhere and it's quite unspoiled. Its name is Necker.' He said an English lord owned it, a man who had never been there.

An island that was miles from anywhere sounded good on two counts. The first was it was a nice long flight with plenty of scenery for us to enjoy. The second was we really did like the sound of it. Unspoiled meant that it had not been built on. Perhaps it would be cheap.

At fist island hopping was a game. We didn't mean to buy an island. I didn't think I could afford one. But now I was excited. I wanted to own our own place in paradise. I had another goal.

We flew over a blue sea and could see pale sand at the bottom. We landed on a white sandy beach. There was a green hill in the middle and we climbed it. The view from the top was worth the effort. We could see in every direction. The island was inside a coral reef. The white beach ran almost all the way around. The agent told us that turtles laid their eggs on the beach. The sea was so clear we could see a giant ray swimming along. In the middle of the island were two small lakes. There was a lush tropical forest. A flock of black parrots flew overhead. There were no big villas. It was a real desert island. Standing there, gazing out to sea, I was king of all I saw. I fell in love with Necker on the spot.

The agent warned us that there was no fresh water on the island. If we bought it, we would have to make it from the sea.

'Good,' I thought. 'They can't be asking a lot for a desert island with no water and no house.'

I asked him the price.

'Three million pounds,' he said.

It was far beyond my reach. 'I can offer 150,000 pounds,' I replied.

I was offering less than five per cent of the asking price! I was serious but the agent wasn't amused. 'The price is three million pounds,' he repeated.

'Final offer. I can go to 200,000 pounds,' I said.

We walked back down that hill and got into the helicopter. We flew back to the villa. Our bags were waiting outside. We had been thrown out. We spent the night in a bed and breakfast in the village and left the next day.

We spent the rest of our holiday on another island. Our plan was to travel on to Puerto Rico - but when we got to the airport, the flight was cancelled. No one was doing anything. So I did - someone had to. I chartered a plane for $ 2,000. I divided that by the number of people. It came to $ 39 a head. I borrowed a black board and wrote on it: VIRGIN AIRWAYS. $ 39 SINGLE FLIGHT TO PUERTO RICO.

The idea for Virgin Airways was born, right in the middle of a holiday, although the actual airline only properly took off when I was sent a business idea." ( 2006, pp.16-20).

~ Excerpted from "Screw it, Let's Do it - Lessons in Life" by Richard Branson.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Take a page from President Obama

"But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject you study. You won't click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That's OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures. JK Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can't let your failures define you — you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one's born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song. You've got to practice. It's the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust — a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor — and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you — don't ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country."

~ Excerpted from President Obama's speech to the students of the USA.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

90 Days without chocolate!


Its been just over 90 days - and with the exception of one weak moment 2 weeks ago -I have not had a taste of chocolate! What I discovered on this fast is that I can live without chocolate but more importantly, I discovered that there are two very sly allies to chocolate: Caffeine and Sugar. I stopped drinking coffee years ago in 1985 when I had to quit using nicotine because caffeine was the twin enemy with nicotine.

Incidentally, that weak moment was a moment of complete disassociation! I saw this piece of chocolate cake being served to all of us who were celebrating the end of the three years of course work in the doctoral program, and I caught myself just after taking the first bite! I was playing Gotcha with myself!

Now I am finding out that my addiction to chocolate was as much a way of getting a caffeine fix as it is a way of getting a sugar fix! Its amazing how many things contain chocolate: cookies, cakes, donuts, ice cream, etc. As a result of letting go of chocolate, I lost 6 pounds in ninety days! But most of that loss probably has to do with not eating all these other products with high sugar and fat content!

The other regime I have started is to intensify my exercise regime. I was walking 30 minutes a day to which I added a routine of Qigong. That may have helped to get my circulation going and my breathing deeper, but it did not help to lose any weight. Now I have added walking up the steps at the Santa Barbara City College Stadium and a lap on the SBCC track! So, my exercise regime is a little more rigorous.

My intention is to lose another 6 pounds in the next three months, by which time I should be at an age appropriate and height appropriate weight!

Stay tuned!
Love, light and shadow,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Life Coach Examines Michael Jackson’s Legacy

A Star has flashed across our collective inner sky. A genius has left an enduring legacy. He was bigger than life. He was a giant in the entertainment field. He wowed us with his music and his moves. So what is the relevance of Michael Jackson to our lives?

The first thing that comes to mind is the early childhood discovery of a huge talent for music. Jackson was clearly a gifted entertainer who wasted no time in perfecting his artistry. From the perspective of a life coach, it is a huge blessing in life to become aware of our calling. That Michael Jackson did this so early in life set him on a clear path. He was precocious in his art beyond his years. Many have remarked how he sang as if he had years of experience behind him. Of the seven intelligences in Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, Michael had access to two unique intelligences: a musical intelligence which contains the capacity to produce and appreciate rhythm and forms of musical expression, and a bodily-kinesthetic intelligence which demonstrates an ability to control one’s body movements. One might even argue that Michael accessed a third intelligence: a linguistic intelligence which demonstrates a sensitivity to the sounds, rhythms and meaning of words But with this success came some serious problems: a loss of balance – loss of childhood, a stunted education and conflicts with his father, resulting in early parent-child relational issues. These can have a devastating affect on one’s psychology.

From a psychological perspective, Michael had to respond to his childhood trauma of physical and emotional abuse and also to the condition of body dysmorphic disorder. In addition, the loss of a normal childhood was irreparable even though Michael tried so hard to make up for this by entertaining underprivileged and disabled children and their families at his Neverland ranch.

Childhood trauma, intentional or accidental, can result in long term psychological and even physiological disorders. Depending on when in childhood such trauma may have occurred, one can anticipate a loss of self-esteem. If Michael was emotionally abused during what Erik Erikson would identify in his model of human development as the psychosocial stage of the latency years (age 6-11), he did not have an opportunity to develop self-esteem through normal peer interactions, since he did not have the benefit of a normal childhood. In the latency years, an individual needs to resolve the conflict between “industry” and “inferiority” before one progresses to the next stage of human development in the life span. His multitude of adoring fans clearly could not make up for the need for normal emotional and psychological development, which is why Michael was so fixated on his childhood issues.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder historically known as dysmorphophobia is a preoccupation with a perceived defect in appearance and can cause severe psychological distress. Whether this was as a result of the 1986 diagnosis of vitiligo, which is an auto-immune disease that causes a loss of pigmentation, or whether vitiligo was concurrent with his body dysmorphic disorder is unclear. Nevertheless, that Michael was able to avoid social isolation which is a typical response to this condition speaks to his strength and courage to treat it and overcome it, in his own unique way. Individuals with this disorder often pursue and receive general medical, dermatological or surgical treatments to rectify their imagined defects. To his credit, Michael found a way to make this a part of his mythic persona.

The life of a celebrity often reveals an inner wasteland because one spends so much time pleasing the fans and getting stroked by an adoring public. This too can lead to a huge imbalance, even though the positive projections from his fans may have compensated a little for his own experience of self-loathing as reported by his long-time friend, Dr. Deepak Chopra. Chopra also revealed that Michael was suffering from Lupus, an auto-immune disease, although there is one report that suggests he was in remission from this.

This level of deprivation of a cultivated inner life can often lead to depression and a “loss of soul.” Surprisingly, Michael was able to compensate for this to some extent because he was clearly receptive to inner promptings in the creation and expression of his music and dance. His best-selling album “Thriller” may have been the outcome of Michael’s capacity to touch and connect with his shadow side. On the other hand, it is also possible that Michael’s emotional development was arrested in his “genital” psycho-social stage, which runs from adolescence to adulthood. During the genital psychosocial stage, an individual works towards resolution of the conflicts between identity and identity diffusion in adolescence, between intimacy and isolation in young adulthood, and between generativity and self-absorption in adulthood. This perhaps explains his less subtle sexually suggestive moves on stage and his complete lack of personal boundaries with children, especially when he dangled his son from the balcony of a hotel room. The final concert series indicates that Michael was moving into the generativity psycho-social stage of his life.

It does not appear that Michael was able to fully overcome his deeper depressive symptoms because he had to treat some of his somatic symptoms with prescription medications to which he became addicted. Michael had been admitted into various programs for chemical dependence and one wonders whether there was ever a serious consideration to receive consistent psychotherapy for his psychological and emotional well-being. Yet, despite this constant struggle with his inner demons, he was able to engage his world-wide public by bringing joy, ecstasy and a sense of human connection that transcended race, culture and ethnicity.

His lyrics evolved from expressions of romantic love (“I’ll be there”) to self-transformation (“Man in the Mirror”) to the unity of humankind (“We are the world”). Deepak Chopra revealed that the music for his final concert tour included environmental themes. So, clearly, despite his many personal trials and tribulations, psychological, legal and financial challenges, Michael was able to give the absolute very best of himself as the King of Pop, and possibly even as a father. He left an indelible impression on the lives of millions of people through his chosen vocation, creative self-expression and re-invention. One might go so far as to say that he achieved a remarkable degree of self-actualization. That is his greatest legacy.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Other Side of Chocolate!

On May 28, 2009, I turned sixty. In addition to dealing with the recent onset of andropause, I set an intention to stop eating chocolate on May 29! Chocolate - that wonderful after lunch and dinner "pick-me-up", that delicious break between tasks; chocolate - that chip that generously spikes my mint chip ice cream and enlivens my chocolate chip cookies.

I chose to ritualize this decision by having a final birthday treat (thank you sooo much to my co-conspirator, Honoree, nee Ms. Nancy Evelyn Hinman) - chocolate dessert at the 5 star Miro restaurant at the Baccara Spa and Resort in Goleta, California. It was important to go out in style! Farewell to all my special friends: Cadbury's, See's, Toblerone, Godiva, Giriardelli, Lindt, Paul Newman's and all the tempting chocolate treats from Trader Joe's! These were all important relationships and I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for all of the years that you have all been there for me! I promise to nod my respects to you when I next see you at the check out counter!

Why, you may ask, did I choose to let go of this delectable aphrodisiac at this time in my life?
The answer resides not only in the results of my annual physical check up but also in my decision to look at my compulsive consumption of chocolate. Yes, I have been an avowed chocoholic for years! It has helped me to deal with over-stimulation, emotional arousal and transitional moments which I had so unconsciously ritualized.

It is my intention to write about this process of releasing myself from this charming compulsion as a Life Coach so that others can do the same with their own special compulsions if they so choose.

My preferred strategy to quit chocolate is the same way I quit caffeine (for the most part), nicotine, alcohol and other substances: Cold Turkey!

Today, Sunday, I will be removing from the refrigerator the tasty chocolate sauce that I love to dash over my coconut ice cream! Tomorrow I will donate the rest of my chocolate treats to the office! Wit the loss of this seductive coping skill, I am going to be experimenting with mints, honey-sesame almonds, fresh fruit, dried fruit and other delectables - as a first step!

I am not sure there is a Chocoholic Anonymous chapter in Santa Barbara - but if not - I could always start one!

I am holding the vision for myself to let go of all of my compulsions and to experience a peak level of physical and emotional well-being as I navigae my sixties!

I look forward to keep you all informed of my progress and what happens when we disempower our compulsions - on the other side of chocolate!

Love, light and shadow,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

They had it made!

This is an article by David Brooks that caught my attention today!

"In the late 1930s, a group of 268 promising young men, including John F. Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, entered Harvard College. By any normal measure, they had it made. They tended to be bright, polished, affluent and ambitious. They had the benefit of the world’s most prestigious university. They had been selected even from among Harvard students as the most well adjusted.

And yet the categories of journalism and the stereotypes of normal conversation are paltry when it comes to predicting a life course. Their lives played out in ways that would defy any imagination save Dostoyevsky’s. A third of the men would suffer at least one bout of mental illness. Alcoholism would be a running plague. The most mundane personalities often produced the most solid success. One man couldn’t admit to himself that he was gay until he was in his late 70s.

The men were the subject of one of the century’s most fascinating longitudinal studies. They were selected when they were sophomores, and they have been probed, poked and measured ever since. Researchers visited their homes and investigated everything from early bed-wetting episodes to their body dimensions.

The results from the study, known as the Grant Study, have surfaced periodically in the years since. But they’ve never been so brilliantly captured as they are in an essay called “What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Wolf Shenk in the forthcoming issue of The Atlantic. (The essay is available online today.)

The life stories are more vivid than any theory one could concoct to explain them. One man seemed particularly gifted. He grew up in a large brownstone, the son of a rich doctor and an artistic mother. “Perhaps more than any other boy who has been in the Grant Study,” a researcher wrote while he was in college, “the following participant exemplifies the qualities of a superior personality: stability, intelligence, good judgment, health, high purpose, and ideals.”
By 31, he had developed hostile feelings toward his parents and the world. By his mid-30s, he had dropped off the study’s radar. Interviews with his friends after his early death revealed a life spent wandering, dating a potentially psychotic girlfriend, smoking a lot of dope and telling hilarious stories.

Another man was the jester of the group, possessing in college a “bubbling, effervescent personality.” He got married, did odd jobs, then went into public relations and had three kids.
He got divorced, married again, ran off with a mistress who then left him. He drank more and more heavily. He grew depressed but then came out of the closet and became a major figure in the gay rights movement. He continued drinking, though, convinced he was squeezing the most out of life. He died at age 64 when he fell down the stairs in his apartment building while drunk.
The study had produced a stream of suggestive correlations. The men were able to cope with problems better as they aged. The ones who suffered from depression by 50 were much more likely to die by 63. The men with close relationships with their siblings were much healthier in old age than those without them.

But it’s the baffling variety of their lives that strikes one the most. It is as if we all contain a multitude of characters and patterns of behavior, and these characters and patterns are bidden by cues we don’t even hear. They take center stage in consciousness and decision-making in ways we can’t even fathom. The man who is careful and meticulous in one stage of life is unrecognizable in another context.

Shenk’s treatment is superb because he weaves in the life of George Vaillant, the man who for 42 years has overseen this work. Vaillant’s overall conclusion is familiar and profound. Relationships are the key to happiness. “Happiness is love. Full Stop,” he says in a video.
In his professional life, he has lived out that creed. He has been an admired and beloved colleague and mentor. But the story is more problematic at home. When he was 10, his father, an apparently happy and accomplished man, went out by the pool of the Main Line home and shot himself. His mother shrouded the episode. They never attended a memorial service nor saw the house again.

He has been through three marriages and returned to his second wife. His children tell Shenk of a “civil war” at home and describe long periods when they wouldn’t speak to him. His oldest friend says he has a problem with intimacy.

Even when we know something, it is hard to make it so. Reading this essay, I had the same sense I had while reading Christopher Buckley’s description of his parents in The Times Magazine not long ago. There is a complexity to human affairs before which science and analysis simply stands mute. "

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Heaven and Hell

The information on Heaven and Hell provided by Elizabeth Gilbert's Balinese Medicine Man is intriguing and instructive. Here's what she says in her book "Eat, Pray, Love":

"At the moment, the person I'm enjoying the most is Ketut. The old man - truly one of the happiest humans I've ever encountered - is giving me his full access, the freedom to ask any lingering questions about divinity, about human nature. I like the meditations he has taught me, the comic simplicity of "smile in your liver" and the reassuring presence of the four spirit brothers. The other day the medicine man told me that he knows sixteen different meditation techniques, and many mantras for all different purposes. Some of them are to bring peace or happiness, some of them are for health, but some of them are purely mystical - to transport him into other realms of consciousness. For instance, he said, he knows one meditation that takes him "to up."

"To up?" I asked. "What is to up?"
"To seven levels up," he said. "To heaven."

Hearing the familiar idea of "seven levels," I asked him if he meant that his meditation took him up through the seven sacred chakras of the body, which are discussed in Yoga.

"Not chakras," he said. "places. This meditation takes me seven places in universe. Up and up. Last place I go is heaven."

I asked, "Have you been to heaven, Ketut?"
He smiled. Of course he had been there, he said. Easy to go to heaven.

"What is it like?"

"Beautiful. Everything beautiful is there. Every person beautiful is there. Everything beautiful to eat is there. Everything is love there. Heaven is love."

Then Ketut said he knows another meditation. "To down." This down meditation takes him seven levels below the world. This is a more dangerous meditation. Not for beginning people, only for a master.

I asked, "So if you go to heaven in the first meditation, then, in the second meditation you must go down to...?"

"Hell," he finished the statement.

This was interesting. Heaven and hell aren't ideas I've heard discussed very much in Hinduism. Hindus see the universe in terms of karma, a process of constant circulation, which is to say that you don't really "end up" anywhere at the end of your life - not in heaven or hell - but just get recycled back to earth again in another form, in order to resolve whatever relationships or mistakes you left uncompleted last time. When you finally achieve perfection, you graduate out of the cycle entirely and melt into The Void. The notion of karma implies that heaven and hell are only to be found here on earth, where we have the capacity to create them, manufacturing either goodness or evil depending on our destinies and our characters.

Karma is a notion I've always liked. Not so much literally. Not necessarily because I believe that I used to be Cleopatra's bartender - but more metaphorically. The karmic philosophy appeals to me on a metaphorical level because even in one's lifetime its obvious how often we must repeat our same mistakes, banging our heads against the same old addictions and compulsions, generating the same old miserable and often catastrophic consequences, until we can finally stop and fix it. This is the supreme lesson of karma (and also of Western psychology, by the way) - take care of the problems now, or else you'll just have to suffer again later when you screw everything up the next time. And that repetition of suffering - that's hell. Moving out of that endless repetition to a new level of understanding - there's where you'll find heaven.

But here Ketut was talking about heaven and hell in a different way, as if they are real places in the universe which he has actually visited. At least I think that's what he meant.

Trying to get clear on this, I asked, "You have been to hell, Ketut?"
He smiled. Of course he's been there.

"What's it like in hell?"

"Same like heaven," he said.

He saw my confusion and tried to explain. "Universe is a circle, Liss."
I still wasn't sure I understood.

He said. "To up, to down - all same, at end."

I remembered an old Christian mystic notion: As above, so below. I asked. "Then how can you tell the difference between heaven and hell?"

"Because of how you go. Heaven, you go up, through seven happy places. Hell, you go down, through seven sad places. This is why it is better for you to go up, Liss." He laughed.

I asked, "You mean, you might as well spend your life going upward through the happy places, since`heaven and hell - the destinations - are the same thing anyway.

"Same-same, " he said. "Same in end, so better to be happy on journey."

I said, "So, if heaven is love, then hell is...."
"Love, too," he said" (2006, pp. 261-3).

~Excerpted from "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happiness & Joy

I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's # 1 New York Times Best selling autobiography "Eat, Pray, Love" in which she takes us on her quest for her own truth through Italy, India and Indonesia. If there is an excerpt from the book that has enduring value for me, it would be these two pages which she writes towards the end of her journey:

"I keep remembering one of my Guru's teachings about happiness. She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't, you will leak away your innate contentment. Its easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments.

Recalling these teachings as I ride my bike so freely in the sunset through Bali, I keep making prayers that are really vows, presenting my state of harmony to God and saying, "This is what I would like to hold on to Please help me memorize this feeling of contentment and help me always support it." I'm putting this happiness in a bank somewhere, not merely FDIC protected but guarded by my four spirit brothers, held there as insurance against future trials in life. This is a practice I've come to call "Diligent Joy." As I focus on Diligent Joy, I also keep remembering a simple idea my friend Darcey told me once - that all the sorrow and trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people. Not only in the big global Hitler-'n'-Stalin picture, but also on the smallest personal level. Even in my own life, I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness have brought suffering or distress or (at the very least) inconvenience to those around me. The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people." (2006, pp. 260-261)

~ Excerpted from "Eat, Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Law of Attraction vs Coherence

"CosMos - A Co-creator's Guide to the Whole-World" is an inspiring book by Ervin Laszlo, Ph.D, recipient of the 2001 Goi Peace Award (Japanese) and the 2005 Mandir Peace Prize. He has been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This book is co-authored by Jude Currivan, Ph.D. The authors offer these thoughts and caveat on the Law of Attraction:

"The principles of resonance and reflection are brought together in the Law of Attraction, which states that like attracts like - positive thinking and intention attract positive results, and vice-versa.

The power of our intention and the energy it unleashes are dependent on our levels of coherence and intensity. The affirmation of our positive intentions in thought, feeling, and action increases the power of our abilities. Nonetheless, it is important to appreciate that the matrix of physical, emotional, and mental levels of consciousness through which our personal and collective intentions and choices are explored and experienced require a "health warning" on interpreting the Law of Attraction too simplistically.

There are many reasons why our life circumstances are as they are. Expanding our awareness to understand them and our behavior patterns and limiting beliefs allows us to gain the perspective that enables us to become more balanced and whole. When we are willing to undertake this quest, we are empowered to "attract" our highest purpose to flow through us. This is the journey of developing deeper coherence. The most coherent ends are achieved through the most coherent means. In this context, "the means do not justify the end"; they become it." (2008, p. 105).

~Excerpted from "CosMos" By Laszlo and Currivan

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Alchemy and the Imagination

Leading Jungian analyst, Nathan Schwartz-Salant's Introduction to Jung's work on Alchemy provides an inviting preface to the topic. This book brings together an essential selection of Jung's thoughts on the topic. The relationship between alchemy and imagination is not to be underestimated:

"The alchemists knew, from their own and from the accumulated experience of centuries of traditional cultures, that their personalities could be transformed. Through initiation rites they felt different, behaved differently, and grew in new ways. No longer bound to the compulsion of adolescent states of mind, or to the flights into promiscuity that wasted their sexual energies, people in traditional cultures learned that they could 'die' and be 'reborn.' And in their reborn form they actually did see the world differently. They could, in fact, see in ways they never could before. Their imagination could become a guide to truth instead of being a capricious trickster. And some alchemists could feel a guiding center that formed in their innermost being and which was strangely linked in feeling to experiences of their most ecstatic journeys. Alchemy developed within this respect for a human concern for the sacred. As a consequence, its very methods were intrinsically bound to the power of illumination and the imagination, and it especially applied the ideas of death and rebirth, so central to initiation rites and mystical experience, to material and psychological change. To understand the alchemical quest we must recognize the intimate relationship that existed between its methods and the transformation of the human personality, or else we shall miss its essential mystery." (1995, p. 5).

~Excerpted from "Jung on Alchemy" by Nathan Schwartz-Salant

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Arundhati Roy's counsel.

There is such power in the writing of Arundhati Roy, author of "A God of Small Things". She is able to communicate her essence with her wordcraft. Here are a few inspiring words of counsel that she wrote for a friend of hers on a paper napkin. They made my day!

"To love. To be loved.
To never forget your own insignificance.
To never get used to the unspeakable violence
and the vulgar disparity of life around you.
To seek joy in the saddest places.
To pursue beauty to its lair.
To never simplify what is complicated
or complicate what is simple.
To respect strength, never power.
Above all, to watch. To try and understand.
To never look away.
And never, never, to forget."
~ Excerpted from a conversation with Howard Zinn in New York City.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Power of Imagination

President Obama is no stranger to the power of imagination. Here's a brief excerpt from his inaugural speech:

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them ..."

President Barak Hussein Obama,
44th President of the United States of America

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Power of Dreams: "I have a Dream" - excerpts from Martin Luther King's Speech

"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men - would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds."

"It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual."

"The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers as evidenced by their presence here today have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We can not walk alone."

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

"This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."

"Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."

"Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen Covey, respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher and organizational consultant earned his stripes with his acclaimed book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." Here's a quick recap of his 7 Habits:

1. Be Proactive: accept responsibility

2. Begin with the End in Mind: Create a mental vision

3. Put First Things First: Prioritize

4. Think Win-Win: Seek Mutual Benefit

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: Balance kindness with courage

6. Synergize: Go for creative co-operation

7. Sharpen the Saw: Constantly renew yourself.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Blind brilliance!

I am watching Governor David Paterson of New York, giving his state of the State message in Albany, New York. I am just blown away at watching the first legally blind African American Governor of New York make his presentation - without notes or a teleprompter. How does he achieve this level of excellence as a visually impaired professional? Here is his story per Wikipedia:

"At the age of three months, Paterson contracted an ear infection which spread to his optic nerve, leaving him with no sight in his left eye and severely limited vision in his right. Since New York City public schools would not guarantee him an education without placing him in special education classes, his family bought a home in the Long Island suburb of Hempstead so that he could attend mainstream classes there. Paterson was the first disabled student in the Hempstead public schools, and graduated from Hempstead High School in 1971.
Paterson received a BA in history from Columbia University in 1977 and a law degree from Hofstra Law School in 1983. After law school, he went to work for the Queens District Attorney's Office, but was unable to complete the New York bar examination, and so did not become an attorney at law. He attributed his failing the New York bar to insufficient accommodation for his visual impairment, and has since advocated for changes in bar exam procedures."

This man must know the secrets of the power of imagination!