Category Archives: Newsletter

Becoming part of the community

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

Life here in Thailand is going really well for me. Little by little I am feeling more at home here, as I continue to find my way.

When coaching clients I often have people tell me that their life is just not what they want it to be, and that they feel trapped. I rarely have any simple answers or solutions for them, but what I do say is “Stay on your path and keep on listening and paying attention the best that you can.” As it used to be said in the 60’s “Keep on keeping on!”. Sometimes we need to sit in an uncomfortable place and work on simply being there, while doing our best to feel thankful. Remaining attentive to possible changes that we might need to make in order to generatively alter the course of our life.

What I do on a regular basis is spend some time most every morning giving thanks for what I DO have, and I usually do the same thing when laying down to go to sleep. Doing so gives me the perspective I need to live a positively oriented life.

I am always interested to read interviews of great athletes who never won the league title in a particular sport. Often what happens is the interviewer says something like “Even though you had a great career, do you walk away feeling disappointed because you never won the championship?” Usually the reply is something like this, “I played the game I love, I had many great teammates along the way, I excelled at what I did, and I made a ton of money. Geez, what would my life be like if I walked away feeling disappointed!”

So in simple terms, I think we will all do well to focus on the positive and let go of our disappointments.

Our lives could likely be “better” and our lives could also likely be a whole lot worse. The task at hand is to feel thankful for what we DO have rather than bemoaning what we do not have.

Simple, but not easy…

Please scroll down and read today’s story.

Becoming part of the community

There is something very interesting that I have noticed when living in a new culture. Somehow there seems to be what I call “the grapevine effect” where numerous people spontaneously start interacting with me in a new way. What I find so interesting is that this change in relationship takes place in various different settings all within a short time frame. It is as if a message got transmitted across my network of acquaintances informing people to change the way they relate with me.  

Everyone here in Chiang Rai started out calling me “khun Charlie” which is very much the same as people calling me “Charlie-san” in Japan. Using “khun” is the way that Thai people signify that they are respecting you. But then something interesting started happening within the space of one week. Four different people in four separate settings started calling me “lung Charlie” with “lung” meaning “uncle”. When I asked a Thai friend what led to this difference when speaking to me she said, “Oh this is really nice. It means that people are feeling like you are becoming a part of their extended family. It means they are feeling closer to you.” One young musician I play music with now even calls me “papa Charlie”. It is wonderful to know I am becoming an accepted part of the community, and again, very fascinating to me that numerous people shifted their perspective within the fame of one week. 

Another thing that has happened is that I now all of a sudden have a number of language teachers out in the community. My ability to speak Thai is still pretty primitive but more and more people have decided to help me learn more. For instance, when I go to the stall where I buy most of my vegetables the lady has started picking up and naming each vegetable she has, and asking me to repeat what she says. Lately she does this each time I show up, and it is a really great way to help me learn.

My friend that I wrote about in my last story decided to give me a math lesson the other day, and what really makes me smile is that she dove right into teaching me without first asking me if I was ready for her lesson. I can count fairly well, but it still takes me a bit of thinking to get the numbers out of my mouth. So the other day when I bought three items from her she added them up on her digital calculator as she called out each number. Then she decided to take me through some addition and subtraction, which she again showed me on her calculator, Then she handed the calculator to me and started calling out numbers, while she checked to see that I punched them in correctly. We carried on like this for a few minutes and then she proclaimed that I was really doing well and learning a lot. 

Last weekend I was walking down the street and I came upon a big party out in someone’s yard. I stopped to have a peek and one of my neighbors who I had yet to ever speak to invited me in. Soon I was being introduced to the guest of honor- An 88 year old woman who was celebrating her birthday. Next, I was given some ice cream and a group of children gathered around me to look at “the farong”. So I took the opportunity to juggle three pieces of candy that had been sitting on the table, and then I did a magic trick which left even the adults baffled. After that, one of the grandmothers attending the party started tugging on my arm, so that I would get up and do some dancing along with her and her friends. I did pretty good following the “step” of the dance, but I had no sense of how to move my hands and arms like they were. They certainly got a lot of enjoyment out of watching me though!

So now when I move around in my neighborhood I am feeling more and more connected to the community, rather than feeling separate and alone. People are welcoming me into their lives and that gives me a wonderful feeling! 

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

The woman with a broken arm

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

As I have written to tell you recently, I am currently living in Chiang Rai, Thailand. So far things are going really well and I am very much enjoying my life here. I love being in a new country and finding so many things to be unique and different than what I have experienced before. Every day there is something new to learn. A new word, a new phrase, a new custom that I had never been introduced to before. I am still very much feeling like an explorer in a new uncharted territory, and I find myself feeling alive and a bit excited most every day.  

As I said in my last newsletter to you, I am transitioning, and as part of that transition Tony and I have put our podcasts to rest for the time being. We each learned a lot over the last year or so and we are both thankful to have had the opportunity to serve you.

The next part of my transition is cutting back these newsletters from twice a month to once a month. I am doing this so that I have the time to take part in the many work activities that are presenting themselves to me here. 

Although you will not hear from me as frequently as before I hope you will stay tuned for more from me. I am not going away! Coaching members of the Seishindo community is still one of my passions in life and I am still very much available as a coach, so don’t hesitate to ask if you need some help from me. Also our Stress Management program is still very much alive and well, so do have a look and a listen.

The woman with a broken arm

After living as a “gaijin” (outside person) for 30 years in Japan I have become a “farang” living in Thailand. The term farang originally was meant to be anyone of European descent and I am not yet sure if the meaning now extends to any person who is not a Thai native.

Many of you have read my book “Pure Heart Simple Mind- Wisdom stories of a life in Japan” and the stories I share with you now will be similar in content and style. Today’s story is titled- “The woman with a broken arm”.

There is a store in my neighborhood that I am very intrigued by. It is quite a rundown shop with the front awning looking like it will collapse any day now. Indeed the awning is so bent over that I have to bend over to make my way inside. There aren’t any doors or windows in the store, and the woman owner has some metal fencing she puts up at night around the perimeter when she closes up. She sleeps on a small wooden frame bed that interestingly enough is placed pretty much in the middle of the store. She can be quite abrupt at times and I am guessing that a potential thief would not want to encounter her if they ever tried to break in. 

When I recently mentioned the shop and the owner to my landlord, she said, “Back when most everything was legal you could get most everything there. Opium, hashish, and who knows what else, along with daily necessities. Actually I have never been in the store because I don’t get a good feeling whenever I pass by. One thing I do know though is that this woman is known to be tough and I guess she has to be to deal with her clientele.”

Nowadays opium and hashish are no longer on the menu but the woman does sell a good deal of home brewed alcohol. A number of scruffy looking guys hang around off to the side every day starting at about 4PM, sipping the alcohol in oversized shot glasses. I did let one of the clientele talk me into a small sip one day and my throat burned while my eyesight seemed to improve for about thirty seconds or so. I haven’t been drawn to have any more though, so I guess I will just have to settle for wearing eyeglasses instead!

Shortly after moving to my house the shop owner broke her left forearm. I have no idea how this happened, but I am pretty certain that she likes to have at least one or two drinks daily, so she might have lost her balance one night. 

I walked into her shop one day to buy a few bottles of club soda which I often drink with a bit of ice when eating dinner, and the lady was out cold on her bed. It was around 2 in the afternoon and quite hot, and I couldn’t help but think that napping at this time of day was not a good idea as the inside of her shop is rather hot and stuffy. I had to call out several times to rouse her and she very definitely was not in a good mood when she woke up. 

Speaking little to no Thai at the time, I still managed to lightly touch her upper left arm and then the area around her cast as I talked to her in a gentle voice, using by best English. She had no idea what I was saying but she did seem to soften some. After not more than a minute of giving her some healing energy I paid my bill and took off. 

I went in again two days later, and she was awake and in a better mood than the last time. So I started touching her arm again and this time I lightly pulled on her fingers which were fairly swollen. Once again, my mini-treatment didn’t last for more than about a minute, and then I paid my bill and off I went. 

The next time I went in there were a few customers standing around drinking and I thought it might not be appropriate to touch her and thus I just paid my bill. When she handed me my change she squeezed my hand and smiled at me and I felt wonderful in receiving her friendship and acknowledgement. 

I never did a full treatment on her but I did actually get to the stage that I would work on her for about five minutes at a time, and she would wind up putting a small food treat in my bag as she said “Thank you” in Thai. 

Now she has had her cast off for about a month and we are slowing becoming friends. What I have taken to doing is opening up a Thai language app on my phone before going into her shop and pulling up a phrase or two that I can say to her. She really gets a kick out of this and she has taken to introducing me to her customers telling them that “this farang is my friend.” She really enjoys our interaction, and most of the time she remembers the phrases that I spoke the last time and prompts me to repeat the phrases again. My ability to speak Thai is still totally primitive but she always tells whoever is around that I am learning so quickly! 

These kinds of interactions with “everyday people” really add to the quality of my life and help me to feel “connected”. I am still very much a “gaijin” here, a “farang” but at the same time, step by step I feel that I am finding my way into the culture. 

Please come and visit some time!

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Ultradian Rhythms and Peak Performance States

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

Today I want to talk about transitions.

If you have been following Tony and me over the last year you will know that we have been producing a podcast and newsletter every two weeks and that I moved to Chiang Rai, Thailand about three months ago.

Life for me has been very rewarding since moving. Lots of different positive opportunities and activities have popped up and I find myself very much enjoying my day to day life.

And I have also found myself to be somewhat conflicted…
I have been asking myself- Should I more fully move into the opportunities that are presenting themselves here or should I stay the course that Tony and I have created and forged together? “To be or not to be, that is the question.” 🙂

And from Tony’s side, he also has life presenting him with new opportunities….

So we have both decided to refocus our lives and thus our priorities. which means that today’s podcast will be the last podcast for awhile. Or perhaps it is clearer to say that we are putting our podcasts on hold so that we don’t create more of a workload than we can handle in a balanced manner. But I AM still going to be sending you newsletters!

I tend to have a compulsive personality. Perhaps I could even say “obsessive-compulsive”! I eat and talk fast, tend to work a lot, think of new ideas quickly, and I love most anything that is new, bright, and shiny! So, with my personality I have tended to often have more on my plate than I can handle in a relaxed manner. I wind up overloading myself and then trying to gulp down all that is in front of me. That is part of the way that I wound up gaining a lot of weight over the years, and when I finally figured out how to manage my weight, it had a lot to do with slowing down and reducing my portion size. Which is what I am in the process of doing now.

I am writing about my transition today for two reasons. 1. I want you to know about the changes taking place with me and the offerings you receive from me. 2. I want to give you the opportunity to think about how you might also like to make some transitions in your own life.

I would like to suggest that you take five or ten minutes every day over the next week or so to think about what you are doing, where you seem to be going, and why. Are you perhaps on a treadmill and no matter how fast you run you never really get anywhere? Are you perhaps stuck in the past, trying to accomplish something that isn’t in alignment with who you are now? Or maybe you have been coming from a place of scarcity, feeling like you will never have enough?

For me, with Tony’s help and support, I have come to realize that “less can be more”. With less in front of me I give myself a much better chance of fully appreciating, digesting, and improving what I do have. I give more thought to quality, as I deal with less and less quantity.

When you take the time to think about the dreams you are attempting to fulfill, you might possibly find that your dreams are out of date. For instance, no matter how much you might have wanted to start your own print newspaper, I would suggest that you consider starting an online “newspaper” instead. Also think about what led you to get on the path you are currently following. Did you start out thinking about your strengths and how you can do what you are best at? Or did you perhaps start out on a new path taking the first possibility that presented itself?

There is lots to think about, and the sooner you take the time to consider your life in a relaxed, supportive manner, the greater your chances will be of living the life you truly desire.

In ending my writing today I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Tony Padgett. He has been a guiding light and a primary source of support for me, these last couple of years in particular. He is one of the finest friends a person can have.

Stay tuned for more from me. I am not going away, I am just transitioning. Coaching members of the Seishindo community is still one of my passions in life and I am still very much available as a coach, so don’t hesitate to ask! Also our Stress Management program is still very much alive and well, so do have a look and a listen.

Today’s Learning

Podcast_Life_Tools

In our last two podcasts we talked about how to fall asleep easily and how to wake up and get out of bed feeling ready for the day ahead. Both of these topics (sleeping and waking) deal with recurring rhythms that take place on a daily basis, and these daily rhythms are known as Circadian Rhythms- Recurrent cycles that are repeated once every 24 hours.

Ultradian Rhythms are what we talk about in today’s podcast, and right here and now I am going to give you some of the important points that we talk about – some highlights. Please listen to our podcast to get much more depth and breadth. Ultradian Rhythms are recurrent periods of time repeated more than once a day, regardless of whether we are asleep or awake.

For instance, bowel activity, release of hormones, and cycling back and forth between mainly using either our right or left brain hemisphere to direct how and what we think. Often we tend to not pay attention to our Ultradian Rhythms, and when we do so, stress and ineffective activity is sure to follow. But when we do pay attention, what we discover is that every hour and a half or so we each need to take a rest break and give our system the chance to relax and rejuvenate.

When we don’t follow our Ultradian cycles and rest, we get tired and lose our mental focus, tend to make mistakes, get irritable, have accidents, and feel stressed. Indeed, people involved in the field of industrial safety recognize that ignoring a person’s ultradian rhythms tends to lead to industrial accidents created by “human error”.

So, taking a 15-20 minute break every 90-120 minutes is not just a luxury, and you don’t need such breaks because you are lazy or bored. Your system is designed to require such breaks. Taking a break allows your MindBody to recover, rest, reenergize, and revivify itself. When you do so you will be more productive, feel more emotionally balanced, and notice and utilize your peak performance states When you attune to your Ultradian Rhythms and take sufficient breaks you will cultivate:

  • Increased creativity
  • Better physical health in general (This is especially true for “seniors”.)
  • Better emotional health and self esteem
  • Better weight management (When you follow your URs you will have less feelings of cravings and addiction.)
  • Better relationships (When you follow your rhythms, you will be less irritable, and better able to listen to others. You will be feeling more “in synch” with yourself which will lead you to be more in synch with others.)
  • A healthier sex life (We will say a tiny bit more about that in our podcast.)
  • Better results with less medication (When a person’s ultradian rhythms are paid attention to and medication is taken at the right time of day, people need less medication to get the same or better results than in more usual situations.)
  • A reduction in psychosomatic symptoms.

What I have just shared with you here gives you a good taste of today’s podcast. Listen to what we have to say and you will draw inspiration for your life going forward. Click the button just below and have a listen our podcast!

Podcast - Attune to your Ultradian Rhythms

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Wake up feeling refreshed and energized

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

Recently I had to go outside of Thailand for a couple of days so that I could apply for my new long term visa. I wound up choosing Vientiane, Laos as my destination. 

For me, much more than the usual sightseeing most folks do, I prefer watching and interacting with people. Most any day, I would rather visit a crowded traditional market than a museum. In Vientiane I met a small cluster of young monks sitting outside their temple. I sat down and chatted with them for about 45 minutes, only to finally realize that the temple had just closed for the day, and I was not a bit disappointed. I knew I hadn’t missed a thing!

Being that I have done bodywork for most of my life, when traveling in Asia one of the things I like to do most is sample the work of the local people. So I walked around for a while until I found a massage shop that had a nice feel for me, and then I went in to sample their offering. I chose a one-hour traditional Lao massage and then I was introduced to six potential people and asked to choose who I wanted to work with me. There were five women ranging in age from about 20 to 50 years old, and one young man with a shaven head dressed very simply. I chose the young man because I felt a warmness from him when he looked at me and because it was the first time outside of Japan that I had the opportunity to be worked on by a man.

He had a gentle intensity to him and I was intrigued to discover that he spoke a basic form of English that he had learned along the way. He was 19 years old and yet he had the presence of someone much older. What was most fascinating was that, as he worked on me, he told me things about myself that he learned by touching me. As I laid on a futon on the floor he said “Big heart” after kneeling alongside me and laying his right hand on my stomach for about 20 seconds or so. “Lonely a little” he said after placing his left hand on my chest. Next he said “no marry” which I took to mean his correct understanding that I am single. 

At some point he was sitting cross legged above my head and he placed both of his hands over my face. “Friendly man” he said, then “let go sadness”. Next I was surprised to hear him say “You father” and I took this to mean he knew I had at least one child.

Towards the end of the massage he was sitting with his back against the wall and he placed a large thin cushion in front of his chest and invited me to recline into his chest. He did various rocking movements and then said “Breathe”. I took a deep breath and he said “Again” and I took another deep breath. and then he tapped my stomach and said “Close eyes, breathe big”. I did just that for several rounds, and then we both came to a place of being very still, very quiet. I felt deeply protected and cared for and had this wonderful sense of being held by my mother. Or perhaps it is more correct to say that I felt he was offering me the experience of being a child held by his mother. I felt sadness, a feeling that I can only describe as “love”, and a great sense of freeing myself from my everyday concerns. I knew in that moment that the thing to do was to fully surrender to life, to let go of my thinking mind, so that I could more deeply touch my feeling mind.

One of the sweetest parts of the experience was when we bowed to each other once the massage was over. I had this deep sense that I had just met myself as a young man. That he and I were part of the same lineage system, tapping into the same field of wisdom and love. Both touching and being touched and feeling an experience that is common to all human beings. Knowing that beneath the surface there is a constant yearning to be seen and touched by others. No right or wrong, no good or bad, just the experience of witnessing and being fully accepted. In such moments all is just as it should be, just as it is.

Today’s Learning

Podcast_Life_Tools

Waking up feeling ready for the day ahead is one of the most important activities you can engage in. You can wake up feeling rested and energized by focusing on the positive aspects and relationships in your life.

When it is time to wake up, if your head is filled with tasks that you don’t enjoy or relationships that are problematic you won’t want to get up and face the day. So especially if you have a challenging day in front of you, it is best to spend a few minutes when you first wake up, and before you get out of bed, to think about the circumstances and relationships in your life that you are thankful for. When you do such thinking you will feel more appreciative of all the good things in your life, and thus you will feel more energized.

Even as you read this text now, take a moment to do what I suggest and see if it doesn’t leave you feeling more thankful and at peace.

Considering what your dreams for your life are…
The things that you really want to accomplish, you really want to do.
The activities that you really want to be a part of.

The activities and relationships that can help to define who you really are, deep down inside.

Take some time now to think of the people in your life that you care about and are thankful for. And internally say their names, slowly, one by one…
Friends…
Family members…
Loved ones…
Colleagues…
The people in your life that support you and care for you and about you.
The people in your life that enrich the quality of your life.
The people in your life that bring a smile to your heart.

And please also take the time to consider the many aspects of your life you likely usually take for granted. A roof over your head, food to eat, clean water to drink, and simply the fact that you are here now, engaging in life.

You see, the more you take the time to be thankful for the many wonderful aspects of your life, the more you will want to get up and start again. Being thankful is a great way to keep your life in perspective.

For me it is like this… I wake up on a particular morning and think “Wow, I have so much to do today and I am not sure I can get it all done.” I say these words to myself as if I have a tape playing in my head that I have no control over. But next, I become somewhat mindful and I say to myself, “I love my daughter and I wish she was still just 6 years old so I could take her and her friends to the zoo this Saturday. I am so thankful for all the love she has brought into my life.” And when I say these words I see us at the zoo and smile as I remember the curiosity and fear my daughter had when she once stood in front of a lions cage. “Oh dada” she said, “Are lions always hungry? Do they always want to eat people?” I bent down and gave her a hug and said, “Well Marina, I don’t know if lions are always hungry, but best to keep your distance, and good to know that you always have mommy and dada to depend on.”

Having just run this scenario through my memory bank I realize that there is much more than just “work, work, work” in my life, and I am thankful for all the wonderful times I have spent with my family and friends. I realize just how much my family and friends add to the quality of my life and I feel blessed to have shared so much love. And when I feel thankful I also feel much more ready to face the day ahead.

What I have just shared with you here gives you a good taste of what today’s podcast is about, I hope you will listen to what we have to say and draw inspiration for your life going forward.

You can click the button just below and have a listen. I hope you will wind up feeling more thankful for all the wonderful aspects of your life.

Podcast - Wake up feeling refreshed and energized

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

An interview with Stephen Gilligan – Part 2

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

Hi all…
Living in Thailand gives me a much greater sense of living with nature than I have ever had before. Even though I have traveled throughout much of the world, I still am very definitely a “city boy” and thus living here is proving to be a new and exciting experience. Here is some of what I have been noticing and thinking about…

When you live in a place where it never really gets cold and there is a lot of rain as well, then everything just grows, and grows, and grows. With a fair amount of the greenery in the compound I live in, you can notice growth on a daily basis. Having grown up in New York City, I am familiar with the saying “The city never sleeps,” but here in Thailand I think a better saying would be “The vegetation never sleeps.” Sometimes living here seems a bit like an Alfred Hitchcock movie because everything just keeps on growing and taking over more and more space, including attaching to the walls of my house. I had a dream the other night that I slept for a week and upon waking up vines were blocking most of the light from coming in through my windows. Dreams are rarely if ever, true to life!

I am finding it hard to know what is a weed and what is a plant that has been added by our gardener. On two occasions I went around the compound with our landlord and said “Why don’t I pull this out before it overtakes the space?” and her reply to my queries was, “Oh no, don’t pull that out, that is a plant we use for cooking.” So I have started to pay more attention to some of my neighbors when they are out working in their yards, and it is becoming clear to me that there is a lot of local vegetation that is part of the basic Thai diet. It pleases me to see people living in harmony with nature.

Being that it is always either warm or hot here, the housing is not at all airtight, and that means that I have a number of creatures that share my house with me. I am guessing that I have at least a half dozen geckos in the house at any one time. I find these “guys” to be cute and they do help in eating whatever insects they can get ahold of. I have been tempted to go to a local pet shop and see if they sell “gecko food”. Feeding them would be my way of saying thanks, but then I realized they might no longer bother to eat the insects in my house.  I had a bit of a startle response today when I opened my mailbox and a gecko jumped out!

Yesterday I found my first toad inside my house and I must admit that I got a bit squeamish. I was pretty certain it couldn’t bite, but “Who knows what this beast might be capable of!” so I called in my neighbor knowing that he is a toad enthusiast and he trapped the little critter and set him (or her?) free out in the garden.

Part of my neighbor’s consideration in liberating the toad was to not leave it in a place where one of the local cats would have easy access to it. The cats in my neighborhood are another source of learning for me. I have a number of small screens in my house that slide open and closed and I was surprised to find two of the screens partially opened the last couple of days. My first thought was, “Hmm, it hasn’t been all that windy, so I can’t imagine how these screens got opened.” Well today I went to my upstairs bedroom to get a piece of clothing, and there was a local cat napping on my bed! Turns out that the cats have learned over time how to scratch the screen open, and they do the same with some of my neighbors as well. I don’t so much mind seeing a cat in my room but open screens lead to mosquitos coming into my house, which definitely is not fun when it comes time for me to sleep.

So I must say I am currently at a loss for what to do. If I keep all the windows closed the house becomes too hot. Keep the windows open and I am bound to be sharing the house with cats and mosquitos. All of which left me consideingr how I could benefit from these tiny challenges. Which lead me to an idea for a new business- Gecko rentals! I could gather and train a troupe of geckos to go into houses and consume whatever insects and other critters are there, and charge a few dollars a month for this service. But prior to starting up such an enterprise, I think I would need to figure out what to do with all the of the tiny “droppings” the geckos invariably leave behind. Hmm, do you have any ideas that might prove useful here? If so, we could perhaps become business partners.

Today’s Learning

Podcast_Life_Tools

With today’s podcast, we are finishing up the interview with Stephen Gilligan, who is a licensed Psychologist practicing in California and has developed his own method of therapy called “Generative Self.” If you didn’t catch the first half, we suggest you go here and have a listen first.

Having been an active participant in the interview with Stephen Gilligan, I have listened to today’s recording a number of times, and I feel that there is a lot of great information presented in a friendly format. Here are some of the themes that stand out the most for me:

The meaning of everything that takes place in your life depends on your belief system and frame of mind. Break your arm in early life and this might lead to your studying physical therapy as a profession. Or, it could lead to your forever complaining about how clumsy you are. Get kicked off your high school basketball team as a freshman because the coach felt you just weren’t good enough, and this could lead to your feeling and acting like a failure for years to come. Or you could instead use this early failure as the fuel that feeds your fire of personal determination, much like Michael Jordan did. The choice is always yours to make, whether you realize it or not.

In a number of our podcasts, Tony and I have talked about “positive intention”- believing that someone does what they do for reasons that are meant to be helpful and life affirming. Sometimes it takes a good deal of soul searching to come up with someone’s positive intention, but we believe it is crucial to do so. In his own words Stephen said much the same. In our model of the world/our belief system, we believe that people always have positive intentions, but often we have less than stellar strategies for fulfilling our intentions.

Another theme was- Believing that we all belong to numerous highly intelligent systems. Universe, earth, nature, the various communities we belong to… especially “the community of self”. Stephen and I talked at length about how every aspect of every one of us has the propensity to be highly intelligent and life affirming. In our work with clients Stephen and I both often ask “In regard to the health challenge you have, what is the deeper life affirming message your somatic self is attempting to communicate to you?” In other words, “What is the positive intention hidden behind your presenting symptoms?” These are not easy questions to answer but if you believe that your entire system really wants you to be healthy, you might discover that the illness you have can wind up being a great gift. Maybe not a gift that you would ever ask for, but a gift nonetheless… as Stephen would say “a terrible gift”.

Much of what we talked about in our interview with Stephen was built upon the understanding that “life is not necessarily easy” and we of course know this from our own personal experiences. Sometimes what takes place in our lives is hard to come to terms with. In my coaching practice I particularly like to work with people who are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, be it a serious injury or illness, or a business situation that has really gone sour. One of the first things I listen for is my clients determination. It is not uncommon to have someone say, “Gee, what you are suggesting to do won’t be easy.” A common response by me will be “Yes, likely the way forward won’t be easy. Do you want to go for it nonetheless? Accomplishing something great is rarely if ever, easy.” In conversations with friends and clients I often like to playfully say “Life is a full time activity.” I am not sure that we ever get to fully retire and take it easy. Indeed many people who live a long life always have something new that they are wanting to accomplish or create.

We talked about a number of other topics as well, and it is our hope that you will listen to what we have to say and draw inspiration for your life going forward.

You can click the button to read an outline of the interview and also listen to Part Two. Enjoy!

Podcast - stephen gilligan part 2

In Community,
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An interview with Stephen Gilligan – Part 1

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

Hi all,
Since moving to Thailand a couple of months ago I have been sharing my Thai experience in the introduction to our newsletter. So here is a bit more today…

I have been finding the people I meet to be kind and caring with a wonderful sense of humor. When you move to a new country and most of the people don’t speak any of the languages you speak and you don’t speak their language all that well, every day you go out you will be sure to have some interesting experiences. 

Let me tell you about a short encounter I had the other day during lunch-
I went into a noodle shop that I had visited several times before. I know enough words to squeak out an order, but not all that much more. The mother of the owner was in the shop this time around and she decided it would be nice to have a conversation with the new “farong” in the neighborhood. (“Farong” is the Thai word for “foreigner”.)

First she said it was hot today, and I could understand that, so I nodded my head “Yes”. Then she made another statement which I could not understand, but I guessed that “Yes” was a safe answer, and I replied “Yes”. Well, I think she became somewhat confident in my Thai language ability because she then went on a bit of a riff in fluent Thai. 

At the end of her soliloquy, I could tell by the intonation in her voice that she had asked me a question. I had no idea what she had asked and thus I had no idea what to reply, so I made a gesture to hopefully show I was confused and didn’t understand. Seeing my “reply” she got up from where she was sitting and came over and sat down at my small table and immediately started gabbing away with a smile on her face. I had no idea what she was talking about, but she did seem to be enjoying herself! After about a minute of talking, she asked me another question, and I gave the same gesture to try and let her know I had no idea what she was talking about. Which led her, I think, to try and explain herself even better!

We engaged like this for about five minutes or so and then her son came to my table to serve my noodles. He winked at me and then took his mom by the hand, apparently asking her to get up and help him do something on the other side of the small shop. As she was doing the assigned task she was still actively talking and at some point another person in the shop who could speak some English called out to me and said, “She just told her son that she thinks you are a very nice young man, and she would like to talk to you more some time.”

I couldn’t help but smile… And now I am looking forward to seeing her in the future when I can speak at least a few more words of her language. 

These are the kind of encounters that really wind up enriching the quality of my life!

Today’s Learning

Podcast_Life_Tools

Tony and I had the pleasure to interview Stephen Gilligan, Ph.D for the current podcast episode. Stephen is a leader in the field of generative psychology, and during the interview we were able learn his thoughts on how we can live a life that is less stressful and thus more emotionally fulfilling. Due to the amount of material we covered, we decided to split the interview into two parts.

For me, interviewing Stephen was a blast from the past. In many ways it seems to me that Stephen and I have been like two butterflies flitting around in the same large field, and only first meeting each other after both of us had logged a good deal of flight time.

I started out on my flight path by studying various healing and bodywork modalities, adding in Ericksonian Hypnosis, getting deeply involved in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), while also getting nicely swept away by my study of Aikido and moving to Japan.

Stephen on the other hand was a psychology major who happened to be studying at UC Santa Cruz, the school that was the nexus point of a number of exceptional human beings, and the gestation of NLP. Not only did Stephen study with Richard Bandler and John Grinder (the founders of NLP) in their early days of teaching, and Gregory Bateson as well, but through Grinder and Bandler, he came to meet and study with Milton Erickson, and eventually he began to seriously study Aikido as well.

So simplifying the above, the “areas” where our  flight paths overlapped were: Ericksonian Hypnosis, NLP, Gregory Bateson, and Aikido. And each in our own way, we learned a lot that is similar and complementary. Let me explain…

My study of Ericksonian Hypnosis started mainly with John Grinder. One of the things I noticed early on with John was that whatever response he got from a “client” while teaching was quite alright with him. He accepted and acknowledged whatever the client said, and he UTILIZED the response of the client to help create positively-oriented change. As an example- If he held up a black placard and asked the client what color the placard was, John wasn’t at all concerned with whether or not the client said “black”. This was quite intriguing for me to experience. It was as if there were no right or wrong, but only acceptance of the client’s experience and model of the world.

Then when I moved to Japan and started to study Aikido with Tohei-sensei I got to see that he had the very same way of reacting as John did. Tohei-sensei would ask a student to attack him and regardless of the attack the student mounted, Tohei-sensei seems quite at ease with what the student did. If the student kicked, that was quite ok. If he instead punched, that was also quite ok. Tohei-sensei UTILIZED the attack as a way to neutralize the attacker and lessen the aggression being expressed.

I found the similarities between John and Tohei-sensei to be deeply fascinating, and I felt truly blessed to be witnessing two great teachers with very different backgrounds, responding in very much the same way. Although John never studied Aikido, he used to say that Aikido and NLP are both based on the same principles- Going with the flow and utilizing whatever was manifesting at any given moment.

Stephen and I have talked and shared a good deal over the years, and we have very similar models of how we approach our work. One of the many gifts that Stephen offers his students is the understanding of how Milton Erickson engaged in the very same process of utilization .

So what I have written here, sets the beginning context for what Stephen and I talk about in today’s podcast. So let me stop now and give you the chance to listen to the podcast. I hope you will get as much enjoyment from this interview as Tony and I did!

A wide range of topics were covered in this interview, so you can click the button to read an outline of the interview and also listen to the podcast. We’ll finish up with Part Two of the interview when we publish the next newsletter in two weeks.

Podcast - how to change careers

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Overcoming occasional insomnia

Introduction

Podcast_Life_Tools

Well…
I have been in Thailand for about a month and a half now and some wonderful things are happening. It is so great to be feeling like I am in the right place at the right time. It seems that a lot of hard work over the course of many years is all starting to fall into place. 

And, because of what is transpiring for me, I want to say “Keep the faith!”
Sure you might worry, fret, moan, and groan along the way…
But if at the same time, you work hard, do your best to be honest, ethical, and kind to others, while maintaining a good sense of humor…
It will only be a matter of time before Life starts to say “Thank you!” and you begin to feel ever more at home in the universe.

One thing I have been feeling for quite some time now is this-
Fulfilling your dreams…
Is not nearly as important as continuing to have the kind of dreams that fuel your passion for living.

So, I ask you now-
What would it take for you to know that you are definitely on your path?

What would it take for you to realize that you are enough and that you matter?

What would it take for you to realize that the Universe is indeed actively protecting and supporting you?


Please stop by our forum and share your thoughts and wisdom in regard to these questions and more.


These are my opening thoughts for today. Please scroll down the page and see what I have to say about overcoming occasional insomnia and our latest podcast.

Musings…

Newsletter_rock

Who doesn’t like a nice night’s sleep? This question is sort of like asking, “Who doesn’t like a really tasty dessert?”

Unfortunately, unlike a good dessert, a nice night’s sleep can’t simply be bought whenever you like.

If you have trouble sleeping from time to time, then I think today’s podcast will offer you definite value. The exercise I walk you through in the podcast will support you in getting the kind of rest you desire and need.

I think it is meaningful to note that getting a good night’s sleep is an important aspect of stress management. The better you sleep, the more prepared you will feel for the day ahead. A good night’s sleep will very definitely lessen the stress you feel in your waking life.

Let me share some theory about how your thinking can get in the way of your sleeping, while also suggesting some remedies:

  • Most of the time when people are having trouble sleeping they are thinking about situations they are not confident about or that frighten them.
    Needless to say, the more you dwell on the negative, the more difficult it will be to sleep. So what to do? Get involved in thinking about what is going well in your life, while giving your primary attention to your breathing cycle.
  • Whatever you think about winds up leading to corresponding pictures being made in the theater of your mind. And vice versa as well. By looking at specific pictures you will tend to think correspondingly specific thoughts.
    So what to do? Think of situations, people, and relationships that please you and allow the accompanying pictures to float on by. You want to proactively create images that calm you down, rather than rile you up.
  • If you are engaged in problem solving, you will not feel like sleeping.
    So what to do? Make believe you have already solved your problem and make a statement that notes your success. Something like, “I have finally figured out how to get better performance from my team, and work is going great.” Repeat that statement to yourself as often as you like, and notice how the way you feel begins to change. Sleep is likely to come after a satisfying day of work!
  • Whatever your are thinking about will lead you to have physical reactions that match your thoughts.
    So, no matter how important tomorrow’s game might be, rather than thinking about what how the game will hopefully unfold, think instead of the satisfaction you will feel having already succeeded.
  • When you think about something that you find very definitely disturbing, you will wind up releasing various hormones into your system.
    For instance, if you are thinking about a person that really frightens you you will release cortisol into your system and wind up feeling a sense of “fight or flight”.
    By now you will likely already be able to guess my suggestion in this regard. Do your best to keep your mind focused on positively oriented people, places, and relationships, while also monitoring your breathing cycle to make sure it stays slow and expansive.
  • As a general caveat- The more you try and stop yourself from thinking particular thoughts or engaging in specific activities, the more of these thoughts and activities you will tend to generate going forward. In my thinking, one of the worst strategies for attempting to calm your thinking mind is trying to stop yourself from thinking. Rather than attempting to stop yourself, engage yourself fully in most any thought or activity that is positively oriented and calming.

I think I will stop here for now…
Please take the time to digest all that is written here, and then click the button below to listen to the podcast for details.

Podcast - how to change careers

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Mushin Breathing- A Japanese technique for lessening stress

Introduction

Podcast_Life_Tools

Well, here I am again, after a slow amble around the globe.
 
Let me give you a short recap to bring you up to date with me sitting here now in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
 
In May, I packed up my life in Tokyo and flew to Washington D.C. to teach a three-day workshop and also to spend some time with a friend and his family. I must say, when people asked me where I lived, it wasn’t easy for me to say, “I lived in Tokyo for thirty years and now I am on my way to live in Thailand.” Somehow, my words didn’t make emotional sense to me, and I had trouble speaking the sentence all in one go.
 
From DC I took a midnight flight to Istanbul. Not sure what time I landed, but I do remember being worn out. Especially after it took me four hours to get to where I was staying from the airport!
 
Istanbul is just sooo big and spread out and also very exciting when you are not traveling at peak commuting times. A business friend who I had never met in person before proved to be an incredibly kind and caring guide. She helped me get a little bit beneath the surface of the Turkish culture, and I am always intrigued when I have the opportunity to do so in a “new” country. If you go to Turkey and spend any time eating with Turkish friends, be prepared to gain weight!
 
From Istanbul I flew to Tel Aviv. I took a van service from the airport to Jerusalem, and then from there I took a bus to Bethlehem and the West Bank. For now I will just say that traveling in the West Bank was one of the most impactful journeys of my life. A lot of mixed up emotions bubbling and sometimes boiling over in this part of the world. It is important to note that I felt very safe in the West Bank, as long as I wasn’t anywhere close to tension between Palestinian youths and the Israeli military. I found Palestinian people to be kind, friendly, and accepting. I taught Aikido in Jerusalem as part of a peace initiative and found the experience to be very emotionally rewarding.

As a side note- The Pope was in Bethlehem at the same time I was, and even though we didn’t get to have coffee together as planned 🙂 , it was great to see him in Manager Square, along with pilgrims from around the world.

And then finally… I traveled over the course of a day and half, from Bethlehem to Tel Aviv, to Zurich, to Bangkok, to Chiang Rai. I don’t remember how long the journey took. I just remember that there were a lot of layovers and it took too long!

Now I am finally here in my new home, and enjoying myself quite a lot in the third portion of my life. Here is a picture of my house in a lovely compound with lots of birds and flowers, a fair amount of frogs, and a fascinating array of geckos both inside and outside my house.

I am now in the process of setting up part of the house for guests, I already have some local private clients I am doing bodywork with, and my landlord and newly found friend Raem and I will be putting together some workshops in the future. Raem does some very special work using Tibetan singing bowls as a medium for healing.

So, that is my update for today, and I will be writing more about my life here in Chiang Rai as time goes on. 

As you scroll down the page in front of you, you will see that we have a community site up on Google+. Tony and I would love it if you would stop by!

And finally, please continue down the page and find your way to the “Musings” section of today’s newsletter and read what I have to say about the Seishindo stress management technique Mushin Breathing. This is the first in a series of articles and podcasts on stress management. And when you are ready to listen to today’s podcast, please have a listen by clicking the button below. People often write saying that they have found that performing this exercise on a regular basis really helps them to stay calm and feel centered. Hopefully, the same will be true for you!

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rock

Mushin Breathing is a core exercise in the study of Seishindo and stress management. Mushin is a Japanese word that can be said to mean “without conscious thought”.
 
This “state” or way of being occurs when the thinking mind is not fixed on or occupied by thought or emotion, and thus open to everything. I believe that mushin is one and the same as what Westerners refer to as a “flow state”.
 
When you are experiencing mushin you are centered and calm, yet active. You do neither too much, or too little, as you release all extraneous action and thought. Nothing comes between your thoughts and actions, and nothing is left over or undone. Thought, action, and breathing occur simultaneously, and this is the exercise walks you through. It can be a deceptively simple yet fully engaging process. Top athletes enter this state numerous times over the course of their career, and every one of us has had the same life affirming experience from time to time. This exercise will make a “flow state” more accessible to you, and little by little you will begin to notice the benefits of being able to embody such a state.
 
As you engage in Mushin Breathing your thinking mind becomes immersed in the process of coordinating your breathing and movements. You gently focus on experiencing and maintaining the quality and flow of your breath and movements occurring seamlessly together as one. You breathe as you move, pause your breathing and movement, and then move and breathe again. Eventually, you become so involved in sensing the movement of your body and your breath, that your thinking mind doesn’t have enough attention left over to think! This is quite a fun place to get to, and you will find that being in such a frame of “bodymind” offers you numerous surprising benefits, depending on your needs.

The podcast shares a good deal more about this important topic so please follow our link and have a listen.

In Community,
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A short intermission

Newsletter_rock

Hi all,
A lot of wonderful things going on in my life!

I have moved out of Japan after having lived there for 30 years, and I am slowly on my way to live in Thailand for at least a year. I will be up in the mountains in Chiang Rai, and hosting friends, students, and other guests.

But I am taking the long way around…

Went to Wash DC for a week for work, and now I have spent the last week in Istanbul. Have a look on the Seishindo Facebook page and you can see a few pictures. Wow, there is so much history and culture in this part of the world. Makes me wish I had studied history in school like I was supposed to!

Next, I leave for Israel and the West Bank tomorrow, and perhaps a short stay in Jordan as well. This part of my trip is especially exciting me, and I am expecting to learn a lot.

After that, back to Istanbul, but likely for just a day, and then on to Bangkok and finally Chiang Rai, to my new home, which is quite lovely.

So… I have decided to take a short intermission and restart the newsletter again in about a month, which will probably be around the beginning of July. I trust that none of you will be too overly lonely during this time period! And if you are, you can always send me an email and I will reply and say “Hello” from wherever I am.

When I start back in again I will be rested and relaxed and I will have new insights to share with you. Several podcasts on stress management are already queued up and ready to go upon my return.

So… perhaps you might also like to take a short intermission in your own life, and think about what you will be doing going forward. Nothing better than slowing down and becoming mindful. All of which reminds me… If you are in transition in most any way, you will find wonderful resources offered by my friend and colleague Jacinta Hin. You can access her site by going here- http://www.jacintahin.com/.

You can also read past newsletters we have on our site (dating all the way back to 2007) by going here:
http://seishindo.org/newsletter/all-newsletters/

Blessings to all of you, and as my journey continues I hope you will keep traveling with me.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Regaining rapport when someone is upset with you

Introduction

Podcast_Life_Tools

In our last two podcasts, we discussed various aspects of creating rapport with others. We talk about this topic a fair amount in Seishindo because we feel it is an important life tool. If you are not having good relationships with others, you will not be enjoying your life and feeling emotionally fulfilled.

One of the things we have noticed along the way is that, no matter how good a relationship is, occasionally there will be a rough patch that needs to be addressed. So today’s podcast and my Musings below will discuss how to regain rapport with someone who is upset with you.

When you are ready to listen to the podcast click the Listen button below. Note that you will see an outline of the key points discussed.

Please share your opinions and insights in our Google Plus community. Tony and I are always happy to hear from you!

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rock

I always find it unsettling when someone I care about winds up getting upset with me. At such times it can be all too easy to descend into internal dialogue about what I might have done “wrong” or what the other person could do to be more understanding. It is rare that such internal talk gets me the results I desire, which is to get the relationship back on a secure footing.

One of the most important keys to regaining rapport with someone is to listen intently to what the other person has to say when they are upset, with the intention of really understanding them. So when listening intently it is important to not be considering how you might want to critique what your counterpart has said. Listen with an open heart and emotionally digest what the other person has just communicated. When someone is upset, the last thing they want to hear is that you think what they said is somehow overblown or ill stated.

So in the early stages of a conversation with an upset person, do your best to refrain from correcting them, unless the whole premise for their being upset is totally off the mark. Give the person the opportunity to let off steam. Trying to discern “right from wrong” will rarely if ever help to get the relationship back on track. Also, trying to explain why you did what you did (if they are upset with you specifically) in the beginning of the conversation, usually doesn’t help.

Another point point in regaining rapport is this:
Keep in mind that you can’t go back and redo what you did or didn’t do, and this is especially important if you have done something that might have been lacking in forethought. Personally, I find that offering an apology will go a long way towards beginning to resolve most issues. And yes, be willing to apologize even when you feel that the other person had a role in what transpired. Make your apology without any conditions and without feeling the need for your counterpart to apologize in any way. Again, what is important here is not “right or wrong” but rather that you are truly sorry that your counterpart is upset with you and that you are empathizing with them.

In some instances, you might need to understand and appreciate that your counterpart’s model of the world is different than yours and thus find a way to embrace and understand these differences rather than get upset by the differences or try to counter their arguments with your arguments. In Aikido we say “It takes at least two people to start a fight. Your job is to not be that second person!”

Keep in mind that when a person is feeling angry or hurt, and they communicate their anger to you, it is actually a sign that they feel close to you and want the relationship to be better, and that is something positive! Does this point make immediate sense to you?

When you think about the relationships people tend to get the most upset about, I think you will agree that it is the relationships that are the most important to one or both person’s involved. Child-parent, intimate partners, long time friends, and yes business relationships as well, because often a lot is riding on the quality of a business relationship. That is why I say, consider this- If the relationship had little meaning or little importance to the other person, chances are they would be a good deal less upset with you or their “upsetness” would be short lived. So it is crucial to keep in mind that “this relationship is really important to my counterpart, otherwise they would not be so upset.”. When you are able to sense the importance of the relationship, you will be much more likely to respond in a way that honors the other person and the relationship.

Please keep in mind that your counterpart wants you to be able to really hear them without judgment, and they are also likely wanting you to feel, acknowledge, and share the pain they are feeling. When you are able to let them know that you do truly feel and care about what they are saying, the relationship will definitely begin to mend, and you will find yourself regaining the rapport that you desire.

The podcast shares a good deal more about this important topic. Please have a listen.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

How to create rapport when meeting someone new

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsToday I will be talking and writing about the best way to start a new relationship with someone. Whether you meet one new person a month or ten new people a day, the way you begin a relationship with someone will go a long way towards determining how the relationship will unfold in the future.

In our last newsletter, I said that we will do best to establish relationships based on shared feelings, interests, and experiences. Today I want to look at what you can do starting out when meeting someone new for the first time, regardless of whether you are shy or outgoing.

Please scroll down to the “Musings” section of this newsletter to read what I have to share concerning meeting someone for the first time, and also be sure to have a listen to our podcast.

If you go to the podcast on the site, you can see an outline of the key points of today’s podcast. Some people like to read the outline before listening as it gives them a clearer roadmap to follow.

When you are ready, have a listen to today’s podcast and hopefully it will lead you to feel more at ease when first meeting someone.

And please do join us in our ever-growing, new community on Google +. The details about our community are just below. A lot of interesting conversations going on!

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rockOver time, what I have discovered about myself is that I sometimes have an “agenda” in mind when meeting someone for the first time. I might be looking to brag a bit, and I might be hoping the person I meet would like to somehow further engage with me in the future.

At other times I find that I simply wing it and talk about whatever interests me at the moment. In both instances I am mainly focused on myself and what Iwant out of the relationship, and thus I don’t take the time to really get to know the other person. Not the best way to begin a new relationship!

Most Asian cultures, on the other hand, go about making a new relationship in a very different way. They take great care in discovering who you are and what is important to you. You might know very little about your new Asian counterpart after meeting them for the first time, but in most instances you will feel listened to and appreciated. All of which has led me to think about how I can be better at starting up relationships, and what I can do differently.

I think the more we are open to learning about the other person and simply exploring possibilities the better chance we have of creating a good bond with the other person. Realizing this after many years of being mainly self-centered has been an important learning for me.

Let me share with you now some of the specifics of what I have discovered along the way. When starting a new relationship, you tend to do best when you start out by calming yourself and entering into the relationship with as little concern as possible about how the relationship might possibly benefit you. This might not always be an easy task, but it is important nonetheless.

It is best to begin by creating a context or environment that will tend to make the other person at ease with you, themselves, and the conversation in general. When the other person feels that you are totally there, without distractions and judgments, this lays the foundation for rapport and makes a high quality collaborative relationship all the more likely.

When you really take the time and effort to gain rapport with someone and understand them better, it might just wind up changing some of your opinions, and the way you act. You see, often when you really get to understand another person and their model of the world, it changes your understanding of yourself and your model of the world. So the more open you are to the possibility of changing and learning, the better a new relationship will tend to go.

Do you best to find a common ground with the person you are engaging with. Look to find the similarities between your beliefs and opinions rather than dwelling on the possible differences.

This step might seem trite if you and the other person share many of the same opinions, but obviously along the way we all meet various people who hold opinions that are different than ours. So, focus on finding a common ground more so than looking to point out where you disagree or looking to make your opinion clear to the other person.

Be open to the unknown and don’t look to move too fast. Meaningful relationships develop over time. Trusting each other, learning from each other, and appreciating each other are important dynamics that can’t be rushed.

The more you believe yourself to be a kind, caring, interesting person, the more you will make it likely that the other person will feel the same about you. Trust in yourself and trust in the goodness of the other person. When you do, a collaborative relationship is very likely to follow.

The podcast shares a good deal more about this topic. Please have a listen.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

An introduction to the art of rapport

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsIn today’s podcast and newsletter I talk and write about how to gain rapport with a wide range of people.

When we truly gain rapport with another person we “bond” with them. We establish a relationship based on shared feelings, interests, or experiences, and in Seishindo we believe that bonding with other individuals is a crucial element in being emotionally healthy and feeling a sense of belonging in the world.

Please scroll down to the “Musings” section of this newsletter to read what I have to share concerning rapport, and also be sure to have a listen to our podcast.

If you go to the podcast on the site, you can see an outline of the key points of today’s podcast. Some people like to read the outline before listening as it gives them a clearer roadmap to follow.

When you are ready, have a listen to today’s podcast and hopefully it will lead you to better learn from your past.

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rockWhen you truly have rapport with another person, you are engaged in a relationship of mutual understanding, agreement, and trust. To me, nothing could be finer!

It is wonderful to be with someone who looks to communicate in a collaborative manner, someone who strives to understand rather than to critique. And I am guessing that most everyone I meet feels the same.

One point I find of great importance when considering forming a good relationship with someone is that you first need to have a good relationship with yourself.

In order to honestly and collaboratively communicate your thoughts and feelings to another person, you will first need to be appreciating and accepting yourself. Being open and receptive to what others have to say begins by being open and receptive to yourself. What I have found over time is that the more a person has negative thoughts about themselves, the more they will tend to be judgmental of others. When you are in a respectful, positively-oriented relationship with yourself, you will be that much more open to the opinions, beliefs, and frailties of another person.

I will admit that I find it important to watch over my tendency to be judgmental. Living in Japan for so long has really given me a great opportunity to be mindful about this. I think it is rather common for Japanese people to judge foreigners concerning some of their “crude” habits, and I also find that myself and other “gaijin” can easily get into complaining and judging Japanese people. Many folks are often just not comfortable with the differences they experience in others.

For me, one significant thing to note when making a relationship with a new person is this: I don’t need to genuinely enjoy being with another person in order to make a good relationship with them. What I need to be able to do is respect the other person and find some appreciation for their point of view. I have learned over time that if I have a difficult time appreciating another person, it says more about me than it does about the them. Sometimes my judgmental nature gets in the way!

I think that, from time to time, we all wind up meeting someone who seems to have a professional level of skill when it comes to annoying and offending others. When I meet such a person, I do my best to understand that the person is likely frightened and thus wanting to keep others at bay. I believe such people exhibit annoying, offensive behavior in spite of themselves. They don’t truly want to be separate from others but being separate seems to create a sense of safety for them. Or better to say a false sense of safety.

So when a person acts in way that leads you to feel offended or upset, first check to see if perhaps you are feeling a bit oversensitive and judgmental and if you feel this is not the case… you will do well to appreciatively consider what the other person might be afraid of or insecure about, and what kind of relationship they would have with you if they felt safe to express their inner feelings. As the Beatles used to say, “Love is the answer and you know that for sure. Love is a flower you got to let it grow.”

In my mind, a life devoid of respectful, loving relationships would be a life not truly worth living. And thank goodness I can’t even really imagine how that could ever happen. Playfully, I like to sometimes say that my desire to have good relationships with others is really a selfish act on my part, because I gain so much by having good relationships!

In Seishindo, we understand that a good deal of what goes into making rapport with another person has to do with the somatic connection you make with the other person. And when I say somatic connection I mean moving, breathing, talking, and adopting a posture that allows both you and the other person to feel safe and invited to share feelings with each other. And making a somatic connection with someone is the main focus of today’s podcast. Tony and I talk about how to use our mammalian consciousness to bond with others.

So when you are ready, please have a listen. And remember, if you go to the site you can read a synopsis of the podcast.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Learn from your past, rather than being defeated by it!

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsOften, we have a tendency to limit our future due to what has transpired in the past. When we do this we wind up assuming that since some event or relationship did not work out previously, we will not be successful in a similar context in the future. I think a more generative way of thinking involves learning from the past, rather than using it to limit our future.

Today’s podcast will talk about such topics, and I will write more below in the Musings section of this newsletter. So please have a read, and then a listen!

If you go to the podcast on the site, you can see an outline of the key points of today’s podcast. Some people like to read the outline before listening as it gives them a clearer roadmap to follow.

When you are ready, have a listen to today’s podcast and hopefully it will lead you to better learn from your past.

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rockOne thing is clear in regard to many highly successful people – They failed once, twice, or even three or four times before finally hitting upon a plan that worked. And what highly successful  people do is learn from their mistakes and then do things differently the next time around. The same is true of successful athletes. People who are successful in the long run tend to use their early failures to be more successful in the future. In fact they use their early failures to help motivate themselves to be more successful in the future.

But when mere mortals like myself wind up not being successful in a certain task or relationship it can be all too easy to ask “Why didn’t things work out?” and often when I ask myself such a question, I realize I am looking to assign blame rather than looking at what I could do differently and better the next time out.

Often when I am coaching people they say something like, “I keep asking myself why my relationship with my spouse turned bad.” And usually it is rare that they come up with an answer that will help them to form a plan for how to do things differently in the future.

You see, if you are going to focus on what went wrong, or what someone else did wrong, you will do well to also focus on what went right and what was well done. You need to learn from both the good and the bad if you are to succeed in the future. So instead of asking yourself “Why” something didn’t turn out well you will do better to ask yourself “What could have led to success here?” When you ask yourself this question you won’t need to wind up staring at the negative side of the coin. When you focus on what went wrong you will tend to only see and realize the negative while missing out on the positive.

Also, when debriefing the past consider whether or not you are focusing on what you do truly want, or if instead you are focusing on what you would like to avoid the next time around.

For instance, asking yourself “What did I do that led me to remain overweight?” will yield different answers and a different future than asking yourself “What is my best current plan for achieving a healthy body weight?”

There is meant to be a tribe in the Andes mountains where the people gesture in front of themselves when talking about the past, and behind themselves when talking about the future. I am not sure how they came to think and talk this way, but I certainly find what they do to be very interesting. If I am not mistaken, I remember reading quite some time ago that the ancient Greeks had a saying which was, “Your past lies in front of you, and your future behind you.” So perhaps both cultures shared a similar wisdom.

My thinking goes like this- Everything that we see and everything we experience is subjective in nature. What we see or experience is predominantly based on what we believe to be true. This is particularly so when we are looking at or experiencing something that is new or unclear. We tend to “see” what we expect to see. When I write this now I can recall numerous scientific experiments that make this quite clear, but when I am in my everyday experience, I find this concept much harder to fathom.

Just today I was in a restaurant in Tokyo for lunch and there was a group of students who had just graduated high school and they were out celebrating. When they left the restaurant their table was looking quite messy. One Japanese customer remarked, “Gee the kids of today have no concern for keeping everything in order. I would be highly embarrassed to leave the table looking as it does.” The master of the restaurant replied, “Gee, I wish I was as young as them and had so much enthusiasm for what lies ahead.” Same “messy” table, yet two very different points of view.

Or even consider this… most other folks in Tokyo and I are very much waiting for spring to truly arrive. I was talking to a neighbor at around 8 this morning and we both remarked, “Gee, it is still pretty cold isn’t it!” And just about that time a happy looking kid walked by wearing a T shirt and no jacket. Obviously the kid’s concept of “cold” did not match the concept of “cold” that my neighbor and I had.

So do your best to remember that everything is relative, everything is subjective. And remember that even when you have failed in the past you did not do “everything” wrong!

Another idea is this- Think of your past as an experiment that occurred and your job is to change the results of the experiment the next time around. It is your job to decide what needs to be done differently, and what needs to be done the same.

Use your past failures to motivate you to do better in the future, rather than using your past failures to defeat you a second time.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Achieve greater clarity and purpose by resolving inner conflict

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsI believe that “life is a series of challenges.”

And when I write that, I wonder if you perceive me as having just communicated, “Life is a series of struggles,” or if instead the message you get is something more like, “Everyone faces numerous challenges in their life and it is crucial that we are able to face our challenges in a positively oriented manner.”

I believe your interpretation will depend a lot on whether or not you find yourself needing to frequently deal with inner conflict. Inner conflict leads one part of you to say “Yes” to a desired outcome, while another part of you says “No.” (We discuss this type of conflict in our Anger Management video which can be found here on our website.)

For instance, you might likely encounter inner conflict when having made a clear commitment to yourself to lose weight. Things go well for the first few days, and then you go to a friend’s house for dinner, and they offer you “the best chocolate cake on planet earth.” How can you say “Yes” to the cake, while also saying “Yes” to your weight management goals? Even as I type that question now, it seems like it might be a zen koan – a question that has no logical answer. Indeed I believe that often the most important issues we face in our life are paradoxical in nature.

Today’s podcast focuses on resolving your inner conflicts so that you are better able to act with clarity and purpose – in other words, resolving or solving the paradoxes you are faced with. Not necessarily an “easy” task, but certainly a task that you are definitely capable of accomplishing, and we give you the steps to help you do just this.

If you go to the podcast on the site, you will see that we have started to include an outline of the key points in each podcast. We started to do this as a result of feedback from some of our listeners. If you are in a hurry or just want to read what the podcast is about, this should help.

Before you listen to the podcast you might want to scroll down to the “Musings” section of this newsletter and read what I have to say about inner conflict.

When you are ready, have a listen to today’s podcast and hopefully it will lead you to act from a place of greater clarity and purpose.

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rockAs “one” individual, we often tend to cast competing votes when it comes to important issues that we face in our lives. For instance, one part of us says “Yes” to wanting to get in shape and exercise more, and another part votes for postponing our exercising regime until the weather gets warmer. This “self competition” is somewhat like being a politician who needs to satisfy two voting blocks that have very different outlooks on life. There is the challenge of needing to craft an initiative that will please both the liberals and the conservatives. Certainly not a simple task and perhaps even a task that can seem impossible at times.

My friend Stephen Gilligan likes to playfully say that many of us seem to have an evil twin that shows up at all the wrong times with the intent of sabotaging whatever plans have been made. So what to do?

I believe that a crucial life skill is having the ability to listen to, appreciate, and synthesize the seemingly competing goals and voices we all have at times. We need to understand that our emotional self often wants immediate gratification with little understanding of the long term consequences of our actions. At the same time, our logical self tends to make goals that don’t take the needs of our emotional self into account. In my life, “the trick” seems to be having the capacity to listen to my emotional self from the perspective of my logical self and vice versa. To craft goals and actions that take into account both voices, both selves. Only then am I able to gain an intuitive understanding of the paradoxes I am faced with, dissolve my internal conflict, and act with clarity and purpose.

When wanting to act in a more decisive, life-affirming manner, I think you will do well to step back and consider how much you find yourself arguing with yourself, and how much you attempt to achieve solutions that are either black or white, rather than achieving goals that are fashioned from a more collaborative point of view. In regard to weight management, I have been working on listening to “Mr. Slim” and “Big Boy”, the names I have given to two of my personas in regard to self-image and weight management.

Big Boy likes to eat pizza and drink beer and finds that the opportunities to do so are somewhat limitless. Mr. Slim on the other hand is very much into the importance of being at a healthy weight and has disdain for anyone who does not see the “obvious” benefits of following his plan of action. Having lost around seventy pounds over the last two years has necessitated me teaching these two guys how to have a collaborative, respectful conversation with each other. Helping each persona to find the similarities and common ground in their seemingly disparate views of life. The results have been highly rewarding, and I believe that you are also definitely capable of crafting new “self-relationships” that can serve you well.

The more you are able to respect and appreciate the synergy your various internal competing points of view offer you, the more energy you will have to successfully meet the many challenges you face. Living a life that offers you significant emotional fulfillment is one of the many benefits you will receive!

Have a listen to today’s podcast, and let me know what both of you think!

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Creating great relationships by modeling others

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsI believe that the ability to create high quality relationships with the people I meet is a very important and highly rewarding skill.

To me, life seems to be all about “relationship, relationship, relationship.” How about you?

I think that most of us move from one relationship to the other numerous times every day, and the type and quality of these relationships also changes many times. Whether it is being with my daughter, talking to a client (long-term or brand new), or meeting a friend for dinner, without high-quality varied relationships, life would really be a drag!

For today’s podcast we are going to learn from (a.k.a. “model”) people who do an excellent job of creating and maintaining relationships with others. I am hoping you find this podcast to be of definite interest, and remember if you let us know your opinions, both positive and negative, Tony and I will do our best to create podcasts on topics that interest you the most.

If you go to the podcast on the site, you will see that we have started to include an outline of the key points in each podcast. We started to do this as a result of feedback from some of our listeners. If you are in a hurry or just want to read what the podcast is about, this should help.

Before you listen to the podcast you might want to scroll down to the “Musings” section of this newsletter and read what I have to say about relationships.

So when you are ready, have a listen to today’s podcast and hopefully it will lead you to have better relationships in the future.

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rockWhen it comes to describing individuals who are excellent at creating relationships with others, I believe Alex Noble does a wonderful job of describing what is important. Here is what he has to say:

“There is a quality in a few unique individuals which I can only best describe as acceptance. In the presence of such persons, I feel safe, at home, and eager to share and learn. Their attitude toward life is gentle and affirming, and this in turn brings out the best and the deepest in me, and makes me feel somehow capable of all the good I have ever hoped to accomplish.”

Alex perfectly encapsulates the type of person I strive to be in my everyday life, even though I often fail miserably at doing so! Indeed I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who does not ascribe to the ideal he sets forth. Parents, coaches, bosses, friends, prison guards… Is there a job or relationship in life where being kind and supportive does not work all that well? To me, I would think not. As long as we don’t equate “being kind” with a person who easily gives in to the dictates of others. Being kind does not at all need to mean “being soft and weak”!

When I first started out as a coach many years go, I thought that my job was mainly to help people get clear and take action. It didn’t take me all that long to realize that in order to help people get clear and take action that I first needed to help them feel safe to share and talk about subjects that were delicate for them.

Next I realized that in order to help them feel capable of change, I needed to be gentle and affirm the good I saw in them. When I was able to do this, my clients wound up feeling much more capable of achieving the goals they had been struggling with.

When working with others, whether in a corporate job, or as a parent, life partner, or friend, there is often a task that either one or both parties want to accomplish. My experience has taught me that the best way to complete the task at hand is to build and maintain a high quality relationship with one’s counterpart. I find that this principle is even more important when the task at hand seems daunting. Two people working together in harmony tend to be much more able than two individuals working separately. Sometimes I like to say that 1 + 1 can equal much more than 2.

If you would like to learn more about what I have to share on this topic, please have a listen to our podcast.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Would you like to handle criticism better?

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsReceiving criticism from others can often be a painful experience, but it doesn’t need to be that way. And, as we go through life, we are bound to get criticized.

So have a listen to today’s podcast and hopefully it will lead you to respond to criticism in a more generative fashion in the future.

Once you get to the podcast on the site, you will see that we have started to include an outline of the key points in each podcast. If you are in a hurry or just like to read what the podcast is about, this should help.

Before you listen to the podcast you might want to scroll down to the “Musings” section of this newsletter and read what I have to say about criticism.

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rockWhat I have learned over time is that giving and receiving criticism is a scary task for many people. Often in giving criticism we worry about the possibility of offending the other person, and in receiving criticism we often feel unappreciated or hurt.

Let me share with you here some of what I have learned in regard to receiving criticism, and then in today’s podcast I will delve into this topic in greater depth.

  1. The more I tend to criticize myself in a given situation, the more I struggle when receiving criticism from others.  At such times I wind up saying something to myself that goes like this, “Gee, I knew what I did wasn’t perfect, but it can’t be as bad as this person is saying!” In such instances what I find is that the criticism I receive actually matches what I thought and that I should have worked some more on the project at hand before asking someone to critique what I have done.
  2. Usually it is not a good idea to ask for criticism on a task or project that you are not fully pleased with. If you are going to ask for criticism on some work that you know still isn’t fully complete, then you will do well to create a clear context for your counterpart. For instance, you might want to say “I know this article is not yet written as well as it could be, but I want feedback on is whether or not you find the main concept to be well thought out.” When you create a clear context like this you make the task of your counterpart a whole lot easier and you will likely find what they have to say, easier to take in.
  3. You might want to let your counterpart know what style of critique will serve you best. Here is a high quality way to ask for critique. You write or say the following to your counterpart: “I would like you to critique the writing I have just done. What would help me most is if you start out telling me what, if anything, you like about the writing, and then let me know about everything and anything you think could be better or different.” Once again, if you ask your counterpart to follow the method you just laid out to them, I think your counterpart will feel more comfortable giving you critique, and you will be much better able to take in what they have to say. If your counterpart leads with a bit of praise, it makes their eventual criticism much more palatable.
  4. Keep in mind that in most instances your counterpart is wanting to be helpful and not hurtful. Most of the time when someone gives youcriticism their intention is to help you, and it is important to keep their positive intent in mind. In receiving criticism, it is good to realize that there is a positive (perhaps hidden) message in even the most stinging critique, and that often strong criticism is a sign that your counterpart feels close enough to you to speak their truth, but they might not be able to deliver it effectively or as gently as we would like. So be thankful for the critique, rather than feeling devastated by the critique.
  5. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this criticism that will help me to do better in the future?” Uncover the positive learning the criticism offers you, and then focus on how you will use what you have learned the next time you face a similar situation

If you take these five points to heart, you will respond to criticism in a more positive manner in the future.

If you would like to learn a good deal more about what I have to share on this topic, please have a listen to our podcast.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

A good method to help you change careers

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsWell, after nine days in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I must say it is a bit cold here in Tokyo!

Like I said in the last newsletter, this is a good time of the year to think about the direction your life is moving towards. And that is why I was in Chiang Mai, to see if I might like to move there. Not sure yet, but it seems like a good possibility.

How about you? Thinking about making any changes in your life? In today’s podcast we interview Nick Corcodilos, a professional career coach. We are doing two podcasts in a row involving possible career changes because we believe that having a career that is right for you will go a long way towards helping you to feel at peace with your life.

Nick offers some great advice on how to go about changing your career, and I think the advice he gives can help anyone wanting to make a significant shift in their lives. So have a listen and hopefully you will benefit from what Nick has to share.

Before you listen to the podcast you might want to go down to the “Musings” section of this newsletter and read what I have to say about considering the life changes that will benefit you most.

If you have already subscribed to our free podcast via iTunes or another podcast player, open your player and today’s podcast should show up automatically. If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it there as well), then please click on the button just below.

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rockIn the course of my life I have come to realize that “change” is an ongoing, never-ending process. We move from childhood into being adults, and then we age over time. Along the way, everything in and around us changes. Our work, our relationships, and our concept of self, others, and life in general. And if you have looked in the mirror lately you will likely have noticed that a few wrinkles wind up showing up here and there as well.

Sitting here now, I remember a warm summer day when I was nine years old. I had just been given a prize after getting off a ride on a truck that used to come around our neighborhood during the summer. And what a prize it was! A large Davy Crockett tattoo showing my hero Davy slaying a wild bear. But then the worst of all possible things happened… In the course of transferring the tattoo to my chest, my dad got the tattoo all wet and the ink smeared and the image was no longer an image – unless you were into deciphering Rorschach ink blots. And this was the first time in my life I can remember crying, and cry I did, because I was devastated.

But guess what? Looking back at this event now from the age of sixty-five, I can realize that it did not change the course of my life, and the “disaster” did not prove to be nearly as severe as I felt it was then. Lucky for me that is!

I think the “meaning” of the events and relationships that take place during the course of our lives has a lot to do with our perspective. I was nine years old when my tattoo disaster took place and Davy Crockett was a bigger than life hero for me. Thus when Davy got washed away I felt that an important part of me was also washed away. But now, having matured considerably, I can see that both Davy and the tattoo were figments of my imagination, much like the rest of my life both before and after.

I think that this feeling of being “washed away” shows up especially when we are not prepared for what winds up taking place. I can think of several more times in my life when I had this same washed away feeling of devastation, and yet somehow I not only survived, but I wound up thriving. You see, I think the hard times I have faced have been the catalysts that led to me becoming resilient and learning how to take “the good” along with “the bad”. I believe that we learn much more from our perceived failures than we do from our successes. And yes, I will be the first to say that being successful feels a heck of a lot better than facing up to our failures. But facing up to our failures is really what determines are life going forward.

In order to give ourselves the best chance of having a healthy perspective about life in general and our place in life, we will do well to take the time to be mindful. You can achieve a lot by simply being mindful of what you are doing in the moment, rather than thinking about other things past and present. You can also be mindful by unplugging from your everyday life and concerns and focusing on nothing in particular and everything in general. Listen to, see, feel, and hear, everything taking place in and around you, and notice how even in the wildest times of change, you can experience stillness in the eye of the storm.

I would be remiss to not mention that the experience of being mindful is an experience you can cultivate by engaging in our stress management program! 🙂

In today’s podcast, Nick suggests a path you can take when considering a career change, and I think that what he offers can be a good formula for the many changes you might be considering. In my way of thinking, he suggests a way to align your heart with your head. When you are able to do this your path forward will become clearer, and you will feel that you do indeed have viable options.

If you would like to further explore whether or not you might like to change the course of your life, please have a listen to our podcast. And, if you’d like to know more about Nick, you can find him at http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Are you on the right career path?

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsWell, once again we are launching into a new year, and I am wishing everyone the best.

To me this is a good time of the year to think about what direction your life is moving towards and what you might like to do differently this time around. I am not talking about making a bunch of lofty resolutions, but rather I suggest thinking about what actions you can take to do some things differently. Little baby steps that will lead to “different”, life affirming results.

Slow down, breathe more, and take one step at a time in a positively oriented direction. If you do so the overall quality of your life will improve and you will feel more empowered. Little by little, baby step by baby step.

Along the line of thinking about what changes you might want to make in your life, today’s podcast is meant to help you decide if you are on the right career path.

I present a tool that I often use with clients, and my clients have told me they also find this tool to be quite useful in deciding on whether or not they are in the “right” relationship with a significant other. So have a listen and hopefully you will benefit from what we have to teach.

Go down to the “Musings” section of this newsletter and read what I have to say about deciding if you are on the right career path.

And as you scroll down, please take a moment to notice that my book “Pure Heart Simple Mind- Wisdom stories from a life in Japan” is now available and on sale in electronic format (PDF). Many people have written telling me how the book has really been nourishing for them, and you might find that the same is true for you.

If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, open your player and today’s podcast should show up automatically. If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it there as well), then please click on the button just below.

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Musings…

Newsletter_rockIn the course of my work, I meet many people who feel trapped in their current job. Sometimes they don’t care for the company they are working for, sometimes they no longer have interest in the field they are working in, and some people feel like they don’t have the skills to be doing anything else. And thus people wind up feeling trapped.

I can tell you from my work that a lot of people have a lot of pain around the issue of what they “should” be doing work-wise. It can be really horrible going to work everyday when you are unhappy with what you are doing. Because of the suffering I see people going through, Tony and I decided to do today’s podcast.

You will have the best chance of excelling in a career when it is suitable, appropriate, and agreeable to your whole self. Fairly often I find that my clients are engaged in a career, or wanting to engage in a career that really doesn’t fit who they are, and thus they struggle. They have one foot on the gas and their other foot on the brake, and when they struggle they tend to think they must be doing something wrong. But their problem stems from their attempting to engage in a career that really isn’t a good fit for who they are and what they want out of life.

The way I see this situation usually play out is for every reason a person has for wanting a different career, they have at least one other reason why they feel they “can’t” change. Financial reasons, family reasons, or simply because they don’t have any other clear skills that they feel they can use in order to forge a new career. The outcome is that people feel trapped and they wind up with the feeling that their is out of control.

In today’s podcast we suggest a path that we often suggest- Working with one of our tools to see how you can align your heart with your head; your thinking mind with your emotions. When you are able to do this, the path forward will become clearer, and you will feel that you do indeed have viable options. And yes, viable options does not mean your path forward will be “easy”. Few things that are really worth accomplishing in life are “easy”. It is the ongoing effort you give that makes your goals that much more satisfying when you get to the other side.

If you would like to further explore whether or not you are on the right path in life, please have a listen to our podcast.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

The act of forgiveness is an act of self love!

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsWe have just launched a completely redesigned website, as well as finishing up our new stress management program offering-Traditional Japanese Stress Management. We will send you a message in a day or two announcing this program, so stay tuned! You can go to the new site now (it has the same address as always) and you will see that everything is completely different and for the better.

The whole site is now searchable and you can easily find articles and podcasts relating to specific topics. Hover over the menu items at the top of the site and you will see what I mean. Please do send up any feedback you may have about the site.

As it turns out, our scheduled podcast on “Forgiveness” is our offering for today, and there is perhaps no greater role model in this regard than Nelson Mandela, who recently passed away. The world has lost a great leader and a great human being. Please read a little bit about Nelson and the topic of “forgiveness” in the Musings section further on down the page.

If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, open your player and today’s podcast will show up automatically. If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it there as well), then please click on the button just below.

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Musings…

Newsletter_rockLet me start off by saying that Nelson Mandela is a man I have had great admiration for, for many years. He is my #1 role model in regard to forgiveness and all the wonderful things that can happen as a result of forgiving others.

Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years, so he could have easily stood up and announced that he was righteous in wanting to punish the people that wronged him. But instead, he chose a path of reconciliation, and the whole world has benefitted from his example. If Nelson had remained angry, there is no telling just how bad things could have gotten in South Africa and the rest of the world after he was released. His path of forgiveness was a gift to the entire world.

Here is one of MANY examples of what Nelson did in regard to forgiving others- He invited his jailors to his inauguration, and he introduced them to the audience as honored guests. What a heart he had!

What I learned from Nelson is this- In order to free ourselves from the pain of anger and resentment we need to be able to forgive others. The longer we dwell on hurtful situations from the past, the longer we keep ourselves from living fully in the present, and in the process we often bring about further pain and suffering. Forgiveness is an act of kindness. An act of kindness to yourself, as it will release you from the pain you have been suffering and lead to new possibilities in your life and in your relationships.

Many people struggle, asking themselves if they “should” forgive someone, or telling themselves that they don’t want to forgive the other person… all the while feeling anger, resentment, and pain. I believe that deep down in each person’s heart of hearts they do want to forgive, and they just need to find a proper way to go about doing so.

Often, my clients say “I don’t want to forgive the other person for what they did in the past. What they did was and is still wrong, and therefore I will not forgive them.”

When I hear such a statement I talk to my clients about the important difference between “forgiving” someone for what they have done and “condoning” what they have done.

Forgiving someone for what they have done, does not at all mean that you have to condone what the other person has done. In other words, you don’t have to feel that what the other person did is okay in order to forgive them. I am fairly certain that Nelson did not condone what was done to him and his compatriots, but that did not stop him from forgiving.

Here is the proposition I set forth in our podcast– What if as a totally selfish act, done simply for your own personal happiness, you decided to let go of the resentment you had towards another person. If you did so you would no longer have resentment clouding your life. Would you be willing to forgive someone if it led to you being happier?

You would not be saying that what was done to you was OK. You would simply be letting go of the resentment so that you could move forward in your life. Would you want to let go of your resentment if it meant you would feel greater happiness overall?

I am guessing that for many of you reading these words now, there is someone in your life that you would do well to forgive. And if you do so, I believe it will improve the overall quality of your life, and the lives of all you are in active contact with. Give it a try!

If you would like to further explore the topic of forgiveness, please have a listen to our podcast.

In Community,
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Build better relationships with people who are different than you

Introduction

Podcast_Life_ToolsThe purpose of today’s podcast is to help you better understand and appreciate people you might find challenging or “different”, in a way that leaves you ill at ease. We offer today’s podcast because we feel that good relationships are a crucial aspect of everyone’s life.

Today’s tool is based on five fundamental questions you can ask yourself as a means to help you get clear and create the possibility of a better relationship.

Please do get back to us and let us know what you think about the podcast. Your feedback will help us to serve you better in the future.

When you are ready, scroll down to the Musings section of this newsletter and I will share some of my further thoughts on appreciating difference in others.

If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, open your player and today’s podcast will show up automatically. That is the beauty of subscribing to a podcast!

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it there as well), then please click on the button just below.

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Musings…

Newsletter_rockLiving in Japan as a “gaijin” for about 30 years now has really given me the opportunity to better understand how to make the most out of relationships with people who are significantly different than me.

“Gaijin” literally translated means “outside person” which to the Japanese, means anyone other than a Japanese person. And there is another related term that is often used, “henna gaijin” or “strange outside person”. In fact I often jokingly say to my Japanese friends that most every “gaijin” is a “henna gaijin” because almost all of us tend to approach the world much differently than the average Japanese.

A number of years ago during a break in one of my seminars, my students started commenting about how strange it must be for “gaijin” to have intimate relationships with Japanese people. After a bit of give and take one young Japanese lady in her late twenties said, “Well, I have no idea what it is like to be married to a “gaijin” but when I got married a few years ago I must say it felt like I had all of a sudden moved to a foreign country. My Japanese husband had, and still has, such unusual habits. Even today, I can’t make much sense out of much of what he does!. Maybe marrying a “gaijin” wouldn’t have been as strange as marrying my Japanese husband!”

Hearing what she had to say made me chuckle, and it also made me think some. I felt she had said something profound, even though the sense I got from her was that she was just complaining a little bit.

One thing that gets clearer and clearer to me as my life continues on is that each and every one of us has a model of the world that is different than anyone else on the planet. Sure, Japanese people have many cultural similarities with each other, but what is dissimilar is also of definite importance. Why? Because I think it is at the interface of “the difference between us” where many people get stuck in their relationships. Likely people of all nationalities face this challenge. No matter how homogeneous a culture might be, I think each culture has many “henna gaijin”, and often it is the unusual person, the eccentric person, that is not held in high regard by others.

You see, much of our thinking, beliefs, and habits seem to be “only natural” to each and every one of us. And when something appears as natural, we often don’t have positive thoughts regarding a person that goes against this natural order. We tend to have judgments about this person and their “strangeness”. So what to do? Well, that’s some of what Tony and I talk about in our podcast. We lead you through 5 specific questions to help you understand and appreciate the difference between you and someone else.

So, if you would like to make better relationships by appreciating the differences in others, please have a listen to our podcast.

In Community,
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Brainstorming new ideas and solving problems using the Walt Disney Creativity Model

Introduction

Today’s podcast teaches you a strategy that Walt Disney used to come up with some of the many brilliant concepts he hatched over the years.

Walt Disney fascinates me for a number of reasons:

He was a high school dropout and certainly wasn’t successful right from the beginning. He suffered through several business failures and bankruptcy. But he very definitely learned from his early mistakes, and wound up creating a process that fostered not only creativity, but overall business success as well. He came up with a process to turn his dreams into a concrete reality and we will teach you the basics of this process in the podcast.

And I wanted to mention about Disney’s early failures because I think it’s important to note that people who wind up being hugely successful, often achieve their success only after having failed one or more times in the past. It is as if their early failures are like a flu vaccine that inoculates them from making the same mistakes again.

Disney learned something positive from his hardships rather than getting down on himself, and I think this in itself can be a great lesson for all of us.

When you are ready, scroll down to the Musings section of this newsletter and I will share some of my further thoughts on Disney and what we can all learn from him.

If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, open your player and today’s podcast will show up automatically. That is the beauty of subscribing to a podcast!

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it there as well), then please click here.

In Community,
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Musings…

The Disney Creativity Model involves exploring new ideas from three different perceptual positions or viewpoints: the viewpoint of a dreamer, the viewpoint of a realist, and the viewpoint of a critic, and then eventually synthesizing these three different perspectives into one workable, successful plan.
OR
The Disney strategy can also lead to not carrying through on a particular project because of any number of factors that show up when using the model.

In everyday life, dreamers, realists, and critics often tend to clash with each other. But in Disney’s strategy, each of these three different kinds of thinking were seen as crucial, utilized, and blended together at some point in the overall process. This was one of the important aspects of Disney’s brilliance. To create magic out of what could have easily been chaos.

Part of the process here involves getting the three different types of thinkers to offer their viewpoints while remaining respectful of the skills that the other members of the team bring to the table, the idea being to find the weaknesses in another person’s thinking, while not equating this with the other person being flawed.

You see, after his early failures Disney realized that relying completely on himself and the great creative ideas he did have was not going to be enough to get the job done. He realized that he needed the input and support of others. This is a wonderful learning. None of us needs to be great at every aspect of the work we are involved in. What we need is to be aware of our weaknesses and get support in those areas. And I think this realization is important in most every relationship. Maybe your spouse is a dreamer, and that might even be what attracted you to them in the first place. But in many instances, dreamers are not great at planning and execution, and that leaves you with a choice. You can either criticize them for their weakness in carrying through with their dreams or you can support them as the person that helps make their dreams more logical and realistic.

So I think that each of us will do well to consider what our strengths are and then ask ourselves what areas we need support in. Once we have done this, then we need to go out and find the people who can best support us. With the help of others we can all be successful, and it is wonderful to realize that we don’t have to go it alone in the world. That is what I mean when I often say, “We each have all the resources necessary to accomplish what we desire, if we call on the help and support of others.”

So, if you would like to understand more about how to be successful in your various life pursuits, please have a listen to our podcast.

In Community,
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Tapping in the the Potential Benefits of Stress

Introduction

If you have been with us for a while you will notice that we have completely redesigned our newsletter. One of our main reasons for doing this was to make the newsletter more user friendly for the many people who read our newsletter on mobile devices. We would love to hear any feedback from you, plus and minus.

In the podcast we offer you today, we look at the positive messages your stress is communicating to you so that you can begin to reap some benefits from your stress.

The idea being, that when you change the way you think about stress, you will change your response to stress, and this will enable you to use the signs of stress that show up in your daily life as a way to help you become healthier and happier. The very same way of thinking is helpful in regard to other signals that your system sends you that you usually think of as being “negative”. For instance, regularly occurring headaches or depression.

When you are ready, scroll down to the Musings section of this newsletter and I will share some of my thoughts regarding how to engage with stress in a life affirming manner.

And when you are done reading…

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it there as well), then please click on this link: The benefits of stress.

If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, today’s podcast will show up automatically the next time you open the application you use. That is the beauty of subscribing to a podcast!

In Community,
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Musings…

As I often say, “Your system (your somatic intelligence) communicates to you in a language that is at least as sophisticated and complete as the verbal language you speak.” And it is my belief that every message your system communicates to you is meant to be life affirming. Unlike your rational mind, your somatic intelligence does not attempt to comment on your weaknesses or deficiencies.

Your system is always striving to communicate the activities and behaviors you would do best to engage in in the moment. “You have had enough to eat.”, “Slow down and breathe more.”, and perhaps even, “Smile more and appreciate life.” I believe these are the kind of messages your system sends you. But often we take these messages and turn them into negative statements. Messages like “You eat like a pig.”, “You are overwrought and unhappy.”, and “Why are you so damn unhappy.” We take a positive and turn it into a negative.

In regard to stress, the dictionary says- “Stress is a  state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” And even though I find this to be a pretty generally accepted view of stress, I also find this definition to be a one sided view of stress.

I would prefer to say that “Stress is a communication from your system, alerting you to be ready for action, so you can successfully meet the challenges you are facing.”

When we frame stress is this way, we can see that the communication known as “stress” does indeed have a positive intention. It alerts us to the fact that something important requires our attention. And that is good, right?

And recently I have come to understand another important positive message your system is giving you when you feel stressed. Your system is letting you know that you would do well to engage in heartfelt relationships with others.

Invariably when people talk about stress they talk about three hormones- adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol, and cortisol is known as “the stress hormone”. These three hormones interact in the body to create a sense of fight or flight. We could call these hormones the negative side of the coin in regard to stress, and that is the side of the coin that gets looked at the most often. Secrete these hormones on a regular basis and you wear out your system.

But there is another hormone that gets released when the body alerts us to stressful situations, and that hormone is oxytocin. The pituitary gland pumps out oxytocin when stressful conditions are perceived, and at other times as well.

Two nicknames for oxytocin are “the love hormone”, and “the cuddle hormone”.

So although oxytocin is secreted when you start to experience stress, perhaps most importantly it is also secreted at various times when intimacy and human bonding is experienced or desired. When oxytocin is secreted it leads people to crave physical contact and be in supportive relationships with others.
Beyond that oxytocin is also an anti-inflammatory, and it helps heart cells regenerate and heal from stress induced activity.

Oxytocin is the positive side of the coin in regard to stress. When we perceive stress we release oxytocin along with the other hormones mentioned, and when oxytocin is released into the system it leads us to crave human connection, and the desire to care for others, and it also helps us to heal our heart.

So this is the side of the coin I would like to orient you to look at:
When you are feeling stressed you can ask yourself- How can I go about being in relationship with others as a way to relieve my stress?

When we feel stressed we tend to feel separate from others and a sense of being out of control. Yet when we are engaged in supportive relationships with others our stress tends to lessen because we feel that we are not alone, and that we have a network of people we can call on for support.

So, if you would like to understand more about how to tap into the potential benefits of stress, please have a listen to our podcast.

In Community,
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Everyday Anger Management

Introduction

I hear from many people that they see ever increasing expressions of anger in their everyday work life and personal life, and certainly we see lots of evidence of this in the news. So I think that understanding more about anger is an important topic for all of us to take a closer look at.

When you are ready, scroll down to the Musings section of this newsletter and I will share some of my thoughts on the topic.

And when you are done reading…

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it there as well), then please click on this link. Everyday Anger Management

If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, today’s podcast will show up automatically the next time you open the application you use. That is the beauty of subscribing to a podcast!

We would love to get some feedback from you concerning the podcasts. The more you let us know what you do and don’t like, the better we can hone our offering. We are also very open to suggestions for future topics. And as always, we would be grateful if you would forward this email to anyone you feel might benefit from what we have to share!

In Community,
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Musings…

If you take the time to delve deeper into the emotion known as “anger” I think you will find that the angrier someone is over a long period of time, the more difficulty they have in expressing their full range of emotions. Their anger overwhelms them and blocks out the possibility of their feeling emotions like sadness, happiness, and love.

So even though angry people often abuse others, they also seriously abuse themselves. And if you think along these lines you will be able to feel compassion for someone when they express anger.

I am not suggesting you should accept or condone outbursts of anger, but rather take a moment to realize how the angry person is abusing themselves and limiting their ability to feel accepted and loved.

Also, if you happen to be pretty hot headed yourself, then think about how your anger keeps you unhappy, and unfulfilled emotionally. No matter how “right” or righteous you might be, it is rare for someone to feel that they got what they wanted by expressing their anger. Indeed, if you find yourself getting angry, you will do well to ask yourself, “What am I really wanting to express here, and what is the response from the other person that I am hoping for?” If you ask yourself such questions you just might find that what you really want to express is sadness and or emotional pain.

As mammals I think we all very definitely need a heartfelt connection to other human beings if we are to maintain an emotionally healthy life. I believe that being able to experience intimacy with others is a necessity and not just a luxury. When we feel hurt, disrespected, abandoned, or sad, we often tend to cover up these uncomfortable feelings and lose touch with what is really driving our behavior. The result that often comes to pass is that we express anger or resentment instead. And after expressing your anger it is likely that you and your counterpart will feel a greater emotional distance between each other, which is likely not the result you are hoping for.

By consistently expressing only one segment of our entire emotional range (our anger), we limit our ability to give and receive love and feel happy.

These are some of my musings about anger. If you listen to our podcast Tony and I discuss this topic in much greater detail. So please have a listen!

In Community,
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Say yes to success

Introduction

Today’s podcast is in a different format than usual. Today you are going to start out by listening to a coaching session that I did during a teleclass for my friend Molly Gordon. Molly is a coach and savant for entrepreneurs. Her work is life affirming and her website has many great resources.

To set the scene for today’s podcast, I ask for a volunteer to coach, and a lovely lady by the name of Pam steps up. During the course of the coaching I help Pam develop a clearer sense of what “being successful” means to her, and how she can more fully live her success. After the coaching session is over Tony and I debrief the session and give you further insights.

We believe that offering you a live coaching session will be a good way to illustrate how Seishindo Life Tools can be used in the “real world”.

I hope you will read through my Musings further on down the page, and when you are done reading, please have a listen to our podcast.

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it as well), then please click on this link: Say yes to success.

If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, today’s podcast will show up automatically the next time you open the application you use. That is the beauty of subscribing to a podcast!

In Community,
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Musings…

What happens for many of us is that without realizing it, we often have competing goals and desires.

We say that we want to be successful, and or emotionally fulfilled, and yet we find ourselves not fully agreeing with our stated intention.

So in order to properly prepare yourself to truly fulfill the desires you have, it is important to make a simple statement about what it is you truly want, and then sit with that statement and feel into whether or not your stated intention really resonates with you. Can you set a goal and then not internally quibble with yourself about what your goal means to you, and whether or not you truly want to do what it takes to achieve your goal?

As always, I suggest that you set a simple goal that focuses on the positive results you want to achieve, rather than getting caught up in contemplating what you are wanting to do away with. The simpler your stated goal, the better. When you focus on the positive you keep your thinking mind and spirit moving in a positive direction. When your whole self says “Yes” to your goal you will be that much more likely to achieve what you desire.

My suggestion is this- Make a simple statement of intent, and then sit there quietly and notice whether there is a part of you saying “No” or “Maybe”. If there is a part of yourself that questions or disagrees with your goal, it is crucial to appreciate what this part of you is wanting to communicate. Rework your stated intention as many times as necessary until you finally make a statement that your whole self says “Yes” to. When you do away with any and all internal conflict you will find that you are much better able to utilize all of the many resources you have available to you.

So take your time, and sit gently with yourself. Is your initial goal perhaps a goal that you no longer truly desire? Is your initial goal perhaps driven by what someone else wants for you, rather than what you want? Is your initial goal perhaps based upon a set of values that you no longer really believe in? Is your initial goal really something that will help you to live the life you truly desire?

Keep listening to yourself and keep feeling what your whole self has to say. If your rational mind says “Yes” but your emotional self says “No” then you need to delve deeper, to find the statement that truly satisfies all of you. Sit, wait, listen, and feel. When your whole self winds up saying “Yes” only then are you ready to finally move forward.

These are my thoughts for today, and these thoughts mirror what you will hear in today’s podcast, so please do have a listen!

In Community,
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Overcoming Procrastination

Introduction
In today’s podcast we discuss the typical reasons for procrastinating and how you can overcome inertia, stay on course, and accomplish the tasks that are important to you. In writing this newsletter I had to strongly discipline myself to not make any bad jokes about why it took us so long to finally get around to producing this podcast!

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our website (and you can download it as well), then please click on this link: Overcoming Procrastination. If you are already subscribed to our podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, the podcast should already be showing up in your feed. You can find our back catalog of podcasts by clicking on this link: Life Tools.

Please scroll down and read my “Musings” in the main section of this newsletter. In my Musings I write about whatever topic or thought that has recently caught my interest. Hopefully you will find that what I write stimulates your own thinking as well.

And please do drop Tony and myself an email, letting us know what you think about this podcast and any of our previous podcasts as well. Your feedback will help set the direction of what we do and where we go in the future. So beyond feedback, please let us know about whatever topics you would like to hear us discuss. You can email us at life-tools@seishindo.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!

In Community,
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Musings…
Amazon-riverI am sharing a few more images this week of my trip to Peru and Ecuador. Not an easy trip to make, but very special! The Amazon river can be overwhelming and awe inspiring at times.

Taking my trip shortly after my dad passed away proved to be perfect timing as I had the opportunity to step away from work and contemplate my life. Always a good thing to do! As I wrote before, I asked myself, “What do I really want from my life going forward? Who do I really want in my life going forward?” Along the way, here is some of what I realized:

At 65 years old I have the possibility of doing things differently, but on some important level my subconscious mind doesn’t seem to realize that I have great possibilities awaiting me. You might have already heard the story I will tell now… A polar bear was brought from the arctic region to a zoo in the States. The living area for the bear was not nearly complete when he first arrived, and he thus spent close to a year in a large cage placed inside his living area. So for months he paced around within the confines of his cage. When his living area was finally complete and his cage was lifted off, guess what happened? Instead of immediately exploring his new surroundings the bear continued to pace around as if the cage was still there! And I must say, I am feeling a bit like that polar bear these days. I am finding it hard to let go of my old habits, so that I can fully engage in the life that is waiting for me. I have deeply engrained habits and my habits haven’t changed all that much in the last couple of months, even though the circumstances of my life have changed. Might the same be true for you on some level?

I think it is all too easy to say, “I feel like ‘this’ due to the current circumstances of my life.” But what I have found is that “I feel like ‘this’ because I am reacting to my life in an habitual manner.” The cage has been taken away, but to a large extent I am acting as if I am still confined.

It is important to sit, and think, and feel, and little by little gently remove the restrictions we have placed on ourselves in the past. Certainly not a simple task completed in a day. I feel like I am trying to figure out a complex puzzle that starts out seeming to not have a solution. I do feel that I will eventually solve this puzzle to some reasonable degree, and yet for now, with no clear path forward, I need to sit, feel into my experience, and experiment with ways to become more present. In doing this I become better able to engage in the paradox of my life. Quite a challenge for a guy who likes to get things done!

Amazon-river2One of the things I am doing regularly is to put on my headphones and sit quietly, listening to the recordings of my stress management program. Having listened to my recordings many times in the making, and now once again in these last two months, I feel a deep sense of “belonging” as I sit and listen. I recognize my voice, I recognize the beautiful music my friend and colleague Henri composed for our recordings, and I have a sense that I do belong right here right now, in the middle of nowhere. So I sit, not understanding a path forward, “not knowing” what to do next, yet knowing that I do need to be still and listen. And that is my path for now- A path that does not clearly move anywhere. A path that is simply right here, right now, all around me.

If you haven’t tried my stress management program yet, you might like to give it a try. Hopefully, if you do, you will discover much the same as me. Have a listen, get familiar with the recordings, and then you too will also little by little, begin to feel like you are in the right place, right here, right now. Your path is all around you, and sometimes your path requires that you simply sit still, listen, and feel. All that you can! Nothing more, and nothing less.

You can go to the right-hand sidebar on our site and sign up for our free five week course. No cost or strings attached, and you just might find what you have been looking for, gently staring back at you. Step by step, little by little, you can find your life waiting for you!

These are my thoughts for today, and I hope these thoughts resonate with you and help you to redirect yourself.

And while you are taking some time for yourself, you can also consider listening to this week’s podcast and find out about how you can overcome procrastination. Overcome inertia, by realizing that indeed you are not confined!

In Community,
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Building better relationships

Introduction
Today’s podcast will help you learn how to build better relationships, and become a more cooperative, understanding partner. I think this is a need that we all have from time to time. You can build better relationships by learning how to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others. In fact I would say that many of the challenges we face when in relationship are due to the fact that we don’t truly understand the other person, and because of this we wind up judging the person as somehow being “wrong”.

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our website (and you can download it as well), then please click on this link: Building better relationshipsIf you are already subscribed to our podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, the podcast should already be showing up in your feed. You can find our back catalog of podcasts by clicking on this link: Life Tools.

Please scroll down and read my “Musings” in the main section of this newsletter. Hopefully you will find that what I have written resonates with you.

And please do drop Tony and myself an email, letting us know what you think about this podcast and any of our previous podcasts as well. Your feedback will help set the direction of what we do and where we go, in the future. So beyond feedback, please let us know about whatever topics you would like to hear us discuss in the future. Please email us at life-tools@seishindo.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!
In Community,
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Musings…
If you have been following our newsletters of late, you know that I recently spent some time in Ecuador and Peru. The trip was rather arduous and also very rewarding. I have included again today, a few pictures from my trip.

On_the_river_2Part of the reason I went to Ecuador was to see if I had interest in moving there. As much as I found the countryside very beautiful, I was left feeling rather lonely. I only know enough Spanish to get in trouble, and since the average “gringo” does not fit into local culture all that easily anyway, I realized that in order to move to Ecuador, I would need to drag at least a couple of friends along with me. Having this realization brought me a new understanding of my life.

For me, having friends to interact with is crucial to my sense of self, and indeed my friends are part of my identity. Is the same perhaps true for you?

Now to be clear, I do have some wonderful friends, but mostly my friends are spread out around the globe, and I desire more than interacting with them via the internet. Realizing this has really changed my thinking about where I would like to move next. Good that I realize this now, rather than moving and feeling lonely afterwards.

More of the riverI have been sitting quietly lately, asking myself, “What do I really want from my life going forward? Who do I really want in my life going forward?” When asking myself such questions I am not at all expecting the “right” answers to quickly pop up, and in fact I find that simply asking myself these questions is comforting. I sit in a state of “not knowing” and realizing that I don’t know is quite alright for me at this time. The important point being that I am asking. I am certain that being present with these questions will little by little lead me where I want to and need to go. Simply taking the time to ask, listen, and feel, is a wonderful gift.

And how about you? Do you take the time to contemplate who you are and what is truly important to you? I hope so, because it can be way too easy to just stay busy and never get around to thinking about such things. As one of my friends likes to say, “I find that I have tended to spend 99% of my life worrying about the 1% of my life that is in front of me now. Instead, by being mindful, I am spending more and more time considering the 99% that has been left unattended for all too long.”

These are my thoughts for today, and I hope these thoughts resonate with you and help you to redirect yourself some. Please have a listen to this week’s podcast and find out about how you can build better relationships. Healthy relationships with friends, loved ones, and colleagues will make your life that much more emotionally fulfilling.

In community,
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What to do when facing failure

Introduction

Everyone has failed numerous times in their lives, and indeed some degree of failure is inevitable. So rather than trying to avoid failure I think the important point to consider is what we do after having failed. When we learn something from our failure and thus alter what we do in the future, then “failure” can be an important life affirming learning experience. On the other hand, when we believe that the failure we faced today is a sign that we simply are not all that competent, then we wind up limiting what we are capable of in the future.

In today’s podcast we are going to look at failure as feedback, rather than looking at failure as a sign of incompetence. We engage in an activity or relationship and the world around us gives us feedback. Sometimes positive and sometimes not so positive. The task we face in life is to adjust and adapt based on the feedback we receive. Failure can be a great teacher, letting us know what works and what doesn’t work, and what we need to continue doing as well as what we need to be doing differently.

So, without further ado, If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our website (and you can download it as well), then please click on this link: What to do when facing failure. If you are already subscribed to our podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, the podcast should already be showing up in your feed. And, as always, you can find our back catalog of podcasts by clicking on this link: Life Tools.

In Community,
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Musings…

amazonI have been traveling in Peru and Ecuador for the last three weeks and I have once again had the opportunity to look at life from a new perspective. I have seen stunning beauty while traveling for 24 hours round trip on a ferryboat on the Amazon river. I have lived for five days in a remote jungle camp that taught me a lot about living close to nature, and I have made my way through numerous cities along the way.

I am sitting here now in Cuenca, Ecuador, thinking about how to describe my experience, and I feel that the best way to do this is to share some random thoughts and feelings with you-

Many people throughout the world live in great poverty. Although this is rather sad to see I am also heartened by the many folks I have come across who live with a wonderful sense of happiness and dignity, regardless of their economic condition. I realize that I have much more than I often appreciate.

Nature can offer us a great sense of wonder and give us a powerful experience of just how “tiny” we are in the overall scope of life. The Amazon river is teeming with life, change, and constancy.

In our jungle camp we went out late in the day to set the fishing nets, and then returned to the nets in the early morning to harvest our breakfast. Not unusual to take in 20 or so small fish and have them served with some local plantains harvested nearby. It led me to understand just how “simple” life can be. Simple but not easy!

amazon_monkeyI met many wonderful people happy to share a few moments or a few hours with a gringo, and at the same time whenever I was on crowded streets I needed to be wary of pickpockets. Sometimes the pickpockets were young children working as part of a team.We stood on the second deck of our ferryboat after arriving back to Iquitos and watched in wonder as many people surged off the boat and many others then surged onto the boat to buy the cargo on the main deck. Lots of fresh fish and fruits, and lots of bargaining going on.

Whenever I travel I am amazed by the differences and similarities I find in various cultures. Japan and the United States offer a very different experience of life than South American culture, and yet there is always something that is the same. The “sameness” I find when traveling is the kindness that people often gladly offer to strangers. One of the richest experiences in life is to ask someone for help, when you don’t share a common language. Perhaps, as one of my fellow travelers remarked, the universal language of life is love.

I have met many wonderful young children along the way, and had several fantastic experiences of giving an impromptu harmonica performance to kids I met while waiting for a boat to arrive, and also playing for people while taking our ferryboat ride on the Amazon. Certainly music is another universal language that can easily be enjoyed and understood by all.

ButterflyMy trip has given me the opportunity to pause and ask myself “Where am I, who am I, and where am I going?”. Certainly the journey is much more important than the destination.

amazon_butterflyMy trip has also once again made it clear to me, that the people I share my life with are so important to me, so crucial.

If you go to the Seishindo fan page on Facebook you will be able to see some of the pictures that my friends and I took.

I hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Tony and I are so thankful to be able to share with you what we have learned along the way. For your convenience, the link to the podcast is here: What to do when facing failure

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Reframing your relationship to change

Introduction

Today we have a small surprise in store for you. Today’s newsletter Musings is being written by my good friend Tony Padgett. Tony and I are doing the Life Tools Podcasts together and I thought it would be great for everyone to get to know him a bit. Also at the time you receive this newsletter, I will be in the jungle in Peru, not too far from the Amazon river. I checked and there are no internet connections, no cellphone towers, and no convenience stores. At some point in the future I will write some about my trip, but for now, let me introduce Tony….

Tony has been working and living in Asia for the past 23 years, the first 17 of them in Japan and the last 6 in Singapore. In addition to his study in Hypnosis, Aikido, and NLP, Tony has worked for a variety of companies including Toyota, Seiko, and Canon as well as few financial institutions. He is currently managing a team of 100 people and has seen an led a variety of change management programs during his career, so I thought it would be appropriate for him to write this version of the newsletter.

Which brings me to the point…this week’s newsletter and podcast is about “Reframing your relationship to change”. We look at how to reframe our relationship to change and engage our challenges from a positive, self-empowering perspective. Due to the nature of the topic, this is one of our longer episodes, so we recommend you listen to this a few times in order to fully absorb and understand each step.

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our website (and you can download it as well), then please click on this link: Reframing your relationship to change. If you are subscribed already via iTunes or another podcast player, the podcast should already be showing up. And, as always, you can find our back catalog of podcasts by clicking on this link: Life Tools.

Without further ado, I’ll let Tony take it from here.

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final


Musings…

In my 23 years of business, I have seen a variety of change programs implemented. Some of them have been good but most not-so-good. And the reason I would say most of them have failed is because they did not capture the emotion of the teams involved. They try to rely way too much on the logical reasons behind the change (e.g. pull out the PowerPoints and show the cost savings, gains in efficiencies, etc.) rather than speak to the teams that were going through the change and give them an emotional reason for why they should buy into the change program to begin with. The change may be good for the company, but why was it good for the employee? Moreover, when a change program is implemented to save costs, I am sure most were thinking…I had better watch myself since if they are looking to cut costs, maybe I’m next!

And, while a change program may have been technically completed, I would say many of them still failed because they left most employees feeling neglected or dis-empowered since they felt no direct connection to the results or were not engaged in the process. The change effort may have changed people on the outside, but their internal behaviors didn’t change.

While change is sometimes obvious as with a change program, another type of change is the ability to grow and adapt to the environment around you–a more indirect type of change. I am sure we all have seen companies that have failed because they kept to the status quo since it’s always harder to start change than it is to sustain it. In the podcast, we discuss one of the more well-known stories…..Kodak. Kodak missed the opportunity to change–they did not move into the digital film arena, and now they are struggling to remain relevant, and there are even reports of the company going bankrupt by September this year.

The key to being open to change is to accept that change is inevitable and that we need to be open to change to adapt and grow. There is no way that we cannot not change! Our bodies changes, the weather changes, and even our opinion changes (especially as we get older, at least in my experience!) The challenge will be is if we change in a generative way or simply change because we are forced to. The former way will bring a lot more positives into your world while the latter will not be lasting.

We tend to not be open to change just because it makes “logical” sense. We tend to change when we feel good about the change itself, as discussed above there is an “emotional” component that influences us to change. Our podcast addresses how to take our limiting reactions to change and modify them into a more positive, generative way to viewing change and thus the way we feel about change overall. By changing our limiting behavior and being open to change, we believe we can then live our lives to the fullest potential.

I hope you enjoy the podcast, and thanks for listening! For your convenience, the link to the podcast is here: Reframing your relationship to change.

Yours truly,

Tony

Creating and achieving the goals you desire

Introduction

Today’s podcast is going to teach you a great method for setting and achieving goals. This is one of the core models in the Seishindo Life Tools Podcast series, and a core part of the coaching I do with people. You will come away from this podcast feeling a good deal more confident about your ability to get done whatever it is you need to get done, by learning how to set goals that point you in a positive direction.

Read through my “Musings” further on down the page, and also our offer of a free digital version of my book.

And then when you are done… Please listen to today’s podcast-

If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, today’s podcast will show up automatically the next time you open the application you use. That is the beauty of subscribing to a podcast!

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it as well), then please click on this link: Creating and achieving the results you desire.

In Community
Charlie_Signature_Final

Musings…

What happens for many of us is that we often set negatively oriented goals for ourselves.
When setting goals, few things could be worse to say to ourselves than something like, “I no longer want to get depressed.” Or, “I am sick and tried of being overweight, and thus I want to lose weight.”

When setting a goal you will tend to get the best results when you focus on the positive results you do want to achieve, rather than focusing on what you no longer want. When you focus on what you do want, you keep your thinking mind and spirit moving in a positive direction, which means you will be that much more likely to achieve your goal.

If you say to a child, “Don’t be so loud and noisy.” You will get them thinking about being loud and noisy. Much better to suggest, “Please be calm and quiet.” If I say to you now, “Don’t dare think about what you are going to do this coming weekend.” You will need to think about the coming weekend at least a little bit, to make sense out of what I am telling you to NOT do. The words and images you use direct your thinking mind in a particular direction, and then your thinking mind tends to follow the direction you point it towards.

That is why it is really important to keep your mind moving in a positive oriented direction when setting goals. Otherwise you are going to have to do a lot of extra work to change your direction in the future. Focus on what is life affirming. Focus on what you do want. Focus on what is right in your life. Focus on the plus and not the minus.

When you point towards a negative, you mind moves towards negatively oriented thinking. When you point towards a positive your mind will move in a life affirming direction.

When creating a goal, be sure to take into account, all the many resources you have that can support you on your path. Keeping in mind that your network of family, friends, loved ones, and the various communities you belong to, can be of great importance in supporting you.

These are my thoughts for today, and I will talk about this and a lot more in today’s podcast, so please do have a listen.

And we would like to ask for some help please…

The more positive reviews we get for our podcasts on iTunes, the better we will show up in the iTunes search results. Better search results leads to more people joining the Seishindo community, and benefitting from what we have to share. So, if you are enjoying our podcasts, we would really appreciate a favorable review!
If you already have iTunes installed on your computer and you have an iTunes account then please use this link to leave a review-
itms://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/seishindo-life-tools/id639589158
It will open iTunes for you and then you will want to click on the tab for “Ratings and Reviews”

And as a way to thank you for your review, we would like to offer you a gift. The pdf version of my book, “Pure Heart Simple Mind- Wisdom stories from a life in Japan.”
After leaving a review on iTunes send us an email at life-tools@seishindo.org with “Podcast review” as the title of your message, and please tell Tony what country you are in, so we can keep track of where people write from. After receiving your email Tony will send you a link to the book.

For those of you who have the time and interest, thanks so much for helping out!

In community,

Charlie_Signature_Final

Positive Intention: With yourself

Introduction

Our transition to podcasting is now pretty firmly underway, and today you are receiving the link to our third podcast relating to “Positive Intention”. Today’s podcast walks you through how to use the concept of positive intention to forge a better relationship with yourself.

Read through my “Musings” further on down the page, and also our offer of a free digital version of my book.
And then when you are done… Please listen to today’s podcast- If you have already subscribed to our free podcasts via iTunes or another podcast player, today’s podcast will show up automatically the next time you open the application you use. That is the beauty of subscribing to a podcast!

If you would like to listen to today’s podcast on our site (and you can download it as well), then please click on this link: Podcast 3: Positive Intention- With yourself

If you missed either one of our first two podcasts you can listen to them, and or download them, here:
Podcast 1: Positive Intention- Introduction

Podcast 2: Positive Intention- With others

We have received some wonderful feedback that leads us to believe we are on the right path, and both Tony and I would love to hear from more of you! The more feedback we get from the Seishindo community, the more we will learn about what you are really wanting to hear us talk about and teach. We look forward to offering you tools that will help you to live a more fulfilling life!

If you are interested in Japanese culture, intercultural issues, and mindfulness, you will likely find my book to be of special value. Click here to have a look inside my book.

Musings…

These last couple of weeks have really given me a lot to think about, and a lot to feel into and absorb. Because so many of you have been receiving my newsletters for a number of years now, I want to share my recent experience with you, rather than simply talking about theory.

Whenever a loved one passes away a lot of memories flood up from the past. One of the things that intrigues me the most about this process is that memories just seem to appear on their own, without any prior conscious thought on my part. I am sure you have all had a similar experience numerous times in your life. When this happens the most is during what is sometimes called “twilight times”. Just before going to sleep, immediately upon waking, while sitting on the train, or any other time when we are not thinking about anything in particular. I would love to know more about how this process takes place. Where are these memories stored, and what is the trigger that leads to one memory and not another? So much of life is mysterious and unknown!

In a wonderful act of serendipity, as we put out our podcasts on “positive intention” I have been drawn to give this concept a lot of thought in regard to my dad. My dad was a courageous New York City fireman for many years, and he saved numerous lives in the course of his work. My dad also had a number of personal demons he struggled with during his life. This led him and me to not always have the best relationship, even though we both tried our best.

So I have spent a good deal of time over the last couple of weeks, coming to a heartfelt understanding of what my dad’s positive intentions were, and also my own positive intentions in regard to being in relationship with him. Lots of food for thought, and lots of emotions to somehow sort through.

You see, I do know that my dad always had a positive intention when disciplining me and criticizing me. Intellectually, I can understand this fairly easily. What takes a good deal more work though is coming to an emotional understanding of what this means. There are two points we have been talking about in our podcasts on positive intention that are important to consider here:

1. Even though our intentions are positive, we often engage in less than stellar behaviors or strategies when attempting to fulfill our positive intentions. Keeping this point in mind I have found it important to appreciate that my dad did indeed have positive intentions, even when his behavior seemed to suggest the opposite. The more I am able to keep this in mind, the more I am able to appreciate my life with my father. It has led me to the realization that he did indeed always want the best for me.

2. Forgiving others for what they have done, is not the same as condoning what others have done.
I think this is a point where people often get stuck when they have been involved in challenging relationships.

In this regard, I have found that it is again important to separate out my dad’s positive intentions, from the behaviors and strategies he used in attempting to fulfill his intentions. When I do this, I can appreciate what his positive intent was, while at the same time forgiving him for the hurtful things he said and did. And I can do this without needing to try and condone some of what he did. The better able I am at doing this, the better able I become at liberating myself from many of the negative emotions I have carried with me over the years.

In sharing my thoughts and feelings with you today, I hope that you will be able to benefit going forward in your own life!

And we would like to ask for some help please…

The more positive reviews we get for our podcasts on iTunes, the better we will show up in the iTunes search results. Better search results leads to more people joining the Seishindo community, and benefitting from what we have to share. So, if you are enjoying our podcasts, we would really appreciate a favorable review!

If you already have iTunes installed on your computer and you have an iTunes account then please use this link to leave a review-
itms://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/seishindo-life-tools/id639589158

It will open iTunes for you and then you will want to click on the tab for “Ratings and Reviews”

And as a way to thank you for your review, we would like to offer you a gift. The pdf version of my book, “Pure Heart Simple Mind- Wisdom stories from a life in Japan.”

After leaving a review on iTunes send us an email at life-tools@seishindo.org with “Podcast review” as the title of your message, and please tell Tony what country you are in, so we can keep track of where people write from. After receiving your email Tony will send you a link to the book.

For those of you who have the time and interest, thanks so much for helping out!

It’s a new day, a new dawn – Positive Intention with others

Introduction

I entitled today’s newsletter, “It’s a new day, a new dawn” because on May 9th my dad passed away at 10PM, just two hours before my birthday. So for me, life is very much starting a brand new cycle.

I have been very blessed in the last few years. My mom passed away three and a half years ago, and I was there with her in her closing moments. The same was true for me and my dad.

My dad was 93 years old as he headed out of the building, and I have already had someone seeking to identify me, ask if I was Charles Jr. I replied that perhaps at the age of 65 I was now just Charles, or Charlie.

Everything is fine as I sit here in Atlanta Georgia, but since I have been writing to the Seishindo community for more than 12 years now, I wanted to share this transition with you all.

Please cherish life.

It truly is a gift!

In community,

Seishindo Life Tools

Sensible solutions for life’s everyday challenges

Life Tools Cover Art 1400 x 1400 v1Today’s podcast starts up where we left off last time, discussing the concept of “positive intention”. This podcast talks about how to improve your relationships with others, by assuming that people really do want to be involved in relationships that serve all parties involved.

A pretty radical concept!

The death of a loved one can really get you thinking about what their overall positive intention in life was. When I think about my father-Both his good points and the inevitable flaws that we all have-I have found it very important to “remember” that his positive intention has always been to love me and protect me, even though at times, I didn’t fully understand the methods he used.

You see, when we assume that people act from a place of positive intention we assume that people have life affirming reasons for doing what they do, even when their behavior would lead us to believe the opposite. Understanding this life affirming principle can truly be a blessing. Both for you, and the people you are in relationship with.

To listen to our second podcast please click below. We look forward to offering you tools that will help you to live a more fulfilling life!

You can find the podcast here:
http://seishindo.org/podcast-002

A description of our Life Tools podcasts

(Since the podcasts are still brand new, let me give you some of the same information I posted last time out.)

Our free bi-weekly podcast is designed to give you straightforward, easy-to-understand solutions, for the challenges life brings your way. During each episode, I will offer step-by-step instructions on how to help you solve a particular everyday challenge that most people face. From these podcasts, you will receive insight on how to improve your relationships with others, maintain a solution oriented outlook in life, and feel more emotionally fulfilled.

Each podcast episode is between 15-25 minutes in length depending on the topic. You can listen during your commute to work, your workout at the gym, before you go to sleep, during your lunch break, or whenever and wherever you find the time. We hope that our podcasts will enhance your overall “Seishindo experience”.

You can subscribe for free and little by little you will come to live a more solution oriented life. One tool at a time, one podcast at a time.

So please do join us in this new endeavour! You can add to our podcasts via iTunes by clicking the following link: Add to iTunes.

Or, if you are using another podcast player, you can copy and paste this RSS feed directly into your player:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/Seishindo-LifeTools

And if you are totally new to podcasts and want to learn more, just continue reading!

Do let us know what you think! Feedback from you will help determine the future course of our podcasts.

We’ve created a Life Tools community forum

When wanting to give us feedback go to the link just below and scroll down the page a little bit and you will see the Life Tools section of our forum.

In case you are wondering what a podcast is

Podcasts are audio files you can listen to on a computer, smartphone, and audio player. In essence, they are like individual radio shows that you can listen to on demand. In fact, you can also listen to them directly from our website as they are published (we will give you a link to our website for each new podcast in future newsletters).

However, it is even more convenient if you subscribe to them with iTunes or a podcast player application on your computer or audio device. Every time a new podcast is released, iTunes or your podcast player will automatically download the next episode the next time you open the application.

If you are new to this and using a computer, we suggest using iTunes since it is the easiest way to get each episode and the application is available for both Windows and Macs. (If you don’t have iTunes, you can download it at http://www.apple.com/itunes/download. If iTunes is installed on your computer or device, all you need to do is click on the iTunes button below which will take you to our podcast on the internet. From there, click “View in iTunes” which will take you to our podcast in iTunes, and then you can simply click “Subscribe” and all of our previous podcasts will be delivered to your iTunes player while future ones will be delivered, without your needing to do anything. Just go to your iTunes app and listen whenever you like. And did we mention, it is completely free!

So…
If you haven’t add the podcast yet yet please click on this link, and let this new journey begin!

Once again…
If you use something else other than iTunes, you can also subscribe by copying and pasting our RSS feed into your podcast player application:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/Seishindo-LifeTools

Enjoy!

In community,

Charlie_Signature_Final

Positive Intention

Introduction

For some time now, I have been working on simplifying the concepts we use in Seishindo so that more of our community can derive the same benefits people get when they engage in coaching with me.

My long time friend, Tony Padgett, kickstarted my thinking a few months ago, and the two of us started reworking and repurposing the concepts and tools we use in Seishindo.

The outcome of our work is a brand new podcast series entitled:

Seishindo Life Tools

Sensible solutions for life’s everyday challenges

I am thrilled to present you with the very first of our podcasts, which you can listen to today, at your leisure. It is entitled “An introduction to the concept of positive intention”.
You can find the podcast here:
http://seishindo.org/podcast-001

Positive Intention

Positive intention is a fundamental concept in Seishindo, that you can use to improve your relationship with others, and also to improve your relationship with yourself. Our definition of positive intention is- An intention or goal that is meant to bring about beneficial results for everyone involved. No one is hurt or demeaned along the way.

When we assume positive intention we assume that people have life affirming reasons for doing what they do, even when their behavior would lead us to believe the opposite. Or, I can even say, We especially want to assume positive intention when a person’s behavior would seem to suggest the opposite.

Going forward…

The both of us are really excited to present our podcast series to all of you and we are hoping that you will derive great benefit from what we have to offer.

So in the foreseeable future, our podcasts will be my main offering to the Seishindo community.

Just as always, this newsletter will still come to you twice a month, and beyond letting you know that a new podcast has been served up, I will share some of my thoughts about the things in life that intrigue me and get me energized.

A description of our Life Tools podcasts

Our free bi-weekly podcast is designed to give you straightforward, easy-to-understand solutions, for the challenges life brings your way. During each episode, I will offer step-by-step instructions on how to help you solve a particular everyday challenge that most people face. From these podcasts, you will receive insight on how to improve your relationships with others, maintain a solution oriented outlook in life, and feel more emotionally fulfilled.

Each podcast episode is between 15-25 minutes in length depending on the topic. You can listen during your commute to work, your workout at the gym, before you go to sleep, during your lunch break, or whenever and wherever you find the time. We hope that our podcasts will enhance your overall “Seishindo experience”.

You can subscribe for free and little by little you will come to live a more solution oriented life. One tool at a time, one podcast at a time.

So please do join us in this new endeavour! You can subscribe to our podcasts via iTunes by clicking the following link:
Add to iTunes

Or, if you are using another podcast player, you can copy and paste this RSS feed directly into your player:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/Seishindo-LifeTools

And if you are totally new to podcasts and want to learn more, just continue reading!

Do let us know what you think! Feedback from you will help determine the future course of our podcasts.

We’ve created a Life Tools community forum
When wanting to give us feedback go to the link just below and scroll down the page a little bit and you will see the Life Tools section of our forum.

In case you are wondering what a podcast is

Podcasts are audio files you can listen to on a computer, smartphone, and audio player. In essence, they are like individual radio shows that you can listen to on demand. In fact, you can also listen to them directly from our website as they are published (we will give you a link to our website for each new podcast in future newsletters).

However, it is even more convenient if you subscribe to them with iTunes or a podcast player application on your computer or audio device. Every time a new podcast is released, iTunes or your podcast player will automatically download the next episode the next time you open the application.

If you are new to this and using a computer, we suggest using iTunes since it is the easiest way to get each episode and the application is available for both Windows and Macs. (If you don’t have iTunes, you can download it at http://www.apple.com/itunes/download. If iTunes is installed on your computer or device, all you need to do is click on the iTunes button below which will take you to our podcast on the internet. From there, click “View in iTunes” which will take you to our podcast in iTunes, and then you can simply click “Subscribe” and all of our previous podcasts will be delivered to your iTunes player while future ones will be delivered, without your needing to do anything. Just go to your iTunes app and listen whenever you like. And did we mention, it is completely free!

So…
If you haven’t subscribed yet please click on this link, and let this new journey begin!
Add to iTunes

Once again…
If you use something else other than iTunes, you can also subscribe by copying and pasting our RSS feed into your podcast player application:
http://www.seishindo.org/category/seishindo-life-tools/feed/

Enjoy!

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

 

The Risks and Rewards of Personal Freedom

Introduction

Today, I am re-publishing an article I first wrote about eight years ago. Recently a Japanese textbook publisher found this story on the internet and published it in a textbook for learning English. I got my complimentary copy late last week, and it was sweet to see the story set up in textbook format, with various vocabulary words underlined and defined. It is always wonderful to have someone show appreciation for my work, and it always brings a smile to my face when one of you writes telling me you appreciated a story from this newsletter. Thanks so much for letting me know!

Have you signed up for our complimentary stress management course yet?

If you are wanting to live a life that is more emotionally fulfilling, you can sign-up here.

I also want to invite all of you to visit the Seishindo Community Forum. We have a wide range of interesting articles and other information and we are waiting for you to visit, interact, and share with us. The more of you who sign up, the greater the pool of wisdom.
Please visit us by going here. http://www.seishindo.org/forum/

One way or the other, I would love to hear from each and every one of you!

In community,
Signature

YOU too, can be a superhero!
The boy in a costume of superhero

2. The Risks and Rewards of Personal Freedom

One of the first things I noticed about my new parrot was that he couldn’t fly. Chico’s wing feathers had been trimmed and thus he was earthbound just like us humans. Once the weather turned nice, I took Chico and sat him on a branch of a tree in my backyard to make him happier.

At first he seemed upset. He walked back and forth on the branch looking like an anxious father walking back and forth in a maternity waiting room. I was surprised to see that he didn’t flap his wings and try and fly. Somehow he just seemed to know he couldn’t, and I always wondered how he knew such a thing.

One day while Chico was walking on the branch of the tree, he seemed even more anxious than he had been when I first took him outside months ago. He was moving back and forth and talking a lot. Then all of a sudden he stopped walking, made a deafening screech, and started madly flapping his wings for the first time ever. About three seconds later he lifted off from the branch like the space shuttle at Cape Canaveral! I was amazed and shocked. I didn’t know he had been waiting all this time for his feathers to grow back. It now seemed obvious that he had been cagily biding his time.

Chico made his break for freedom on a Monday afternoon, and by late Monday night I was pretty sure he was not going to return home. Finally on Tuesday evening Chico returned, but he stayed up on a high branch where I couldn’t reach him. I talked to him softly and showed him some food, but to no avail. Then I took his cage inside so he would not think that coming back meant getting caught again. Finally I made him a promise that if he did come back I would let him out every day when the weather was nice. Shortly after making my promise, he flew onto my shoulder and I took him upstairs.

From that day on, when the weather was good I would always let him out early and he would fly around and be back home before dark. His routine continued like this for about two months and then suddenly Chico became ill. The vet said that he had caught a disease from the pigeons in the neighborhood. Within a few days he died, and I felt conflicted and sad.

I kept thinking that if I had not set him free to fly every day, he would still be alive. But then after a week of torturing myself I realized that the quality of one’s life is much more important than the number of years one lives. After all, what does it mean to be a bird if you can’t fly?

Chico made his first flight for freedom on a Monday afternoon in April. When will you make yours? You too can take a chance when the conditions are right, knowing that in your own way, you also were born to fly. If you don’t set yourself free, what will be the purpose of your life?

It is my thought now, that the quality of your life is dependent on feeling your essence, and living the design that is you. If you are a fish your life needs to be all about swimming. If you are a bird your life needs to be all about flying and spreading your message of freedom to all you meet along the way. What is your essence? What were you put on this earth to do? If you don’t let yourself be free and express your heart you won’t be fulfilling your reason for living.

3. My Offer

If you would like some help in better understanding yourself and reinventing you life, I can likely help. You can go here to see what others have said about my coaching. http://www.seishindo.org/about-us/kudos/ Send me an email at charlie@seishindo.org and I will send you some information. If you like what you read we can have a complimentary “chemistry check” conversation so you can get a feel for how we might work together.

Regards,
Signature

Thoughts to Ponder – 8

1. Introduction

This is the last newsletter in this series. Thanks to the many people who wrote to me appreciating what has been shared.

We have a number of new ventures we are working on, so stay tuned for some brand new offerings in the near future.

Have you signed up for our complimentary stress management course yet? Numerous people are reporting life affirming results.

I also want to invite all of you to visit the Seishindo Community Forum. We have a wide range of interesting articles and other information and we are waiting for you to visit, interact, and share with us. The more of you who sign up, the greater the pool of wisdom.

One way or the other, I would love to hear from each and every one of you!

In community,

Charlie_Signature_Final

It is cherry blossom season here in Tokyo!

2. Thoughts to Ponder- 8

“What is it that makes you, you?
Do you appreciate who you are while still realizing the need to change and the possibility of living a more fulfilling life? Or do you tend to find fault with yourself and bemoan who you are not? The more you criticize and find fault with yourself, the less likely you are to live the life you truly desire.

What will you need to do differently if you are to live the life you truly desire?”
Charlie

“The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.”
Brian Tracy

This quote fits very much into the philosophy of Seishindo. In general, you will live a much more fulfilling life if you have goals that you move towards, rather than trying to avoid potential problems or pitfalls. When you dwell on your potential problems, or your fears, you point your thinking mind towards the negative. When you instead focus on potential solutions and improvements in your life you point your thinking mind towards the positive.

My experience in coaching people has shown me that when people do manage to avoid a problem they rarely feel happy with the results they achieve. Instead they usually quickly turn towards thinking about the next “problem” they feel like they need to avoid.

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”
Dale Carnegie

I feel that many of us give way too much importance to being successful, while ignoring or discounting the pursuit of happiness. I particularly see this in the careers and jobs people choose. When I was growing up many of the adults I knew talked to me about the importance of being successful, and yet I don’t remember anyone ever talking to me about the importance of being happy.

“The number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying.”
Tom Hopkins

“Obstacles are necessary for success because victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats.”
Og Mandino

I never cease to be intrigued by how some people increase their desire to be successful after suffering a defeat, while others become despondent and give up. We need to learn from our past mistakes and make the necessary course corrections for our next attempt, rather than dwelling in the past and feeling like our defeat means we aren’t truly capable. I think we will be well served by asking ourselves, “What could I have done differently, that would have likely led me to achieve the results I desired?”

And the answer you come up with needs to point towards the actions you did and didn’t take, and the thinking you did and didn’t do.

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”
Tony Robbins

“A mediocre person tells. A good person explains. A superior person demonstrates. A great person inspires others to see for themselves.”
Harvey Mackay

As a student, I most appreciated and benefitted from the teachers that inspired me to think for myself and be solution oriented, rather than the teachers who stood up in the front of the room and taught me their method for achieving a solution.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
Zig Ziglar

The way I often talk about this is to ask people- “When you think about who YOU are, do you limit your thinking to ONLY yourself, or do you see your friends, loved ones, and colleagues as part of your definition of self?”
The stronger our relationships with others, the more resources we have available, to help us live the life we truly desire.

“You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.”
Seth Godin

Thoughts to Ponder – 7

1. Introduction

Have you signed up for our complimentary stress management course yet? I hope that many more of you will find the time to sign up and begin to live a life that is more emotionally fulfilling and less stressful. You can go to this link on our site and find out all the details.

I also want to invite all of you to visit the Seishindo Community Forum. We have a wide range of interesting articles and other information and we are waiting for you to visit, interact, and share with us. The more of you who sign up, the greater the pool of wisdom.

Follow this link, register as a member, and help us to create a life affirming community.

One way or the other, I would love to hear from each and every one of you!

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

 

Sit quietly and wait for the mist to burn off…

IMG_9893

2. Thoughts to Ponder- 7

“You gave your life to become the person you are right now.
Was it worth it?”
David Thoreau

“When we find inspiration, we need to take action for ourselves and for our communities. Even if it means making a hard choice, or cutting out something and leaving it in your past.”
Aron Ralston

As we open to what is actually happening in any given moment, whatever it is or might be, rather than running away from it, we become increasingly aware of our lives as one small part of a vast fabric made of an evanescent, fleeting, shimmering pattern of turnings. Letting go of the futile battle to control, we can find ourselves rewoven into the pattern of wholeness, into the immensity of life, always happening, always here, whether we’re aware of it or not.
Sharon Salzberg

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
George Harrison

In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
Martin Luther King

We need to listen carefully to the wisdom of our symptoms and to try to decode their meaning, because some of us have learned to settle, to fall silent, to deny that unfair circumstances exist or matter, and then to call our compromises “life”. But our bodies, our deeper unconscious selves, remain harder to fool.
Kat Duff

True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the profound desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.
Bill Wilson

Indecision with the passing of time becomes decision.
Bill Wilson

Excellence is the result of caring more than others think wise, risking
more than other’s think safe, dreaming more than others think practical, and expecting more than others think possible.”
Anonymus

“People sleep, and when they die, they awake.”
Mohammed

Spend some time alone every day.
The Dalai Lama

What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.
Ellen Burstyn

Life is so short we must move very slowly.
A Thai saying

The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.
Richard Moss

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving
Lao Tzu

A snowflake never falls in the wrong place.
A Zen saying

Love
To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.
Bill Wilson

What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories?
George Eliot

Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.
Mark Twain

I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am
with you.
Roy Croft

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.
Aristotle

Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time… It tells us to
tell each other right now that we love each other.
Leo Buscaglia

Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition.
Alexander Smith

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
David Thoreau

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

 

Thoughts to Ponder – 6

1. Introduction

Our complimentary stress management course is up and running and many people are already receiving valuable life lessons. I hope that many more of you will find the time to sign up and begin to live a life that is more emotionally fulfilling and less stressful. You can go to this link on our site and find out all the details.

I also want to invite all of you to visit the Seishindo Community Forum. We have a wide range of interesting articles and other information and we are waiting for you to visit, interact, and share with us. The more of you who sign up, the greater the pool of wisdom.

Follow this link, register as a member, and help us to create a life affirming community.
http://www.seishindo.org/forum/

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Life is an act of metamorphosis…
Crimson_Rose

2. Questions to Ponder 6

Concerning not knowing and “nothing”
“Nothing is more real than nothing.”
This quote is attributed to Democritus but it also plays a pivotal role in various Oriental wisdom practices

“If we could agree that for six months we would not ask How?…this might elevate the state of not knowing to being an acceptable condition of our existence rather than a problem to be solved, and we might realize that real service and contribution come more from the choice of a worthy destination than from limiting ourselves to engaging in what we know will work.”
Peter Block, “The Answer to How is Yes”

“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”
Bob Dylan

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.”
Wendell Berry

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”
André Gide

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.”
author unknown

“What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. When your mind is calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing, no world, no mind nor body, just a swinging door.”
Pema Chodron

“To do is to be.”
Socrates
“To be is to do.”
Plato
“The way to do is to be.”
Lao-Tzu

“The real voyage of discovery lies not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
Lao Tzu

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men…”
Roald Dahl

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity, a pessimist sees a
calamity in every opportunity.”
Sir Winston Churchill

“If one day you have a big problem, Don’t turn to God saying you have a big problem, Turn instead to your problem saying you have a big God.”
Quran

“You never conquer a mountain. You stand on its summit a few moments; then the wind blows your footprints away.”
Arlene Blum

“To dare is to lose your “foothold” for a moment. Not to dare is to lose yourself.”
Sören Kierkegaard

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”
Paul Hawken, “Growing a Business”

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another
with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Winston Churchill

“It takes four bad investments to make a good venture capitalist,”
Charles Kaye, President of the venture capital firm Warburg Pincus

On being judgmental
“We judge others by their behaviors, but we judge ourselves by our intent.”
Manager Tools

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Mother Teresa

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”s
Oscar Wilde

Miscellaneous
“The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.”
Richard Moss

“The best defense is no defense, which is another way of saying “The less defensive you are, the better able you are to defend yourself.”
An Aikido principle learned over the years

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder – 5

1. Introduction

I thought that spring was about to arrive in Tokyo, but the last couple of days the weather has been close to freezing, and at night, a bit below that. 🙁

The complimentary Seishindo stress management course has been well received by many of you, and I would love to have more of you sign on. No cost, and no strings attached for a five week course that can help you learn how to better manage your emotions. Click on the link in the right hand sidebar of this newsletter, and files will be delivered to you shortly thereafter.

Even if you are not needing any stress management skills, you might like to come join us in our community forum. Also no cost to register and participate. The link for the forum is:
http://www.seishindo.org/forum/

One way or the other, I would love to hear from each and every one of you!

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Are you bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready for life?

That_Impish_look

Photo by Ruben Alexander

2. Questions to Ponder 5

Do you wish your life was easier?
“There are always two choices. Two paths to take.
One is easy. And its only reward is that it is easy.”
Unknown

Is there anything in life,
That is really worth doing,
That is “easy” to accomplish?
When you say, “But it won’t be easy!”
Are you really saying that you doubt whether or not you are capable?

Just because something is simple, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy to do.
Charlie

“The Dharma life, that of following our instinct for freedom, requires involvement in everything. Every emotion, every mind state, every expression of being is valuable, important to know and learn from. Evolving a realistic Dharma attitude helps to keep these things in perspective.

At times the process is arduous and all-consuming, requiring heroic patience, courage, and determination. At other times, the way is silent, intuitive, and imperceptible. It can be a magical process, whereby we smile as we absorb life’s delicious blend of beauty and intrigue. Then, without notice, a storm of torment, origin unknown, sweeps over us and takes us to our knees. Being alive and engaged with all dimensions of reality is an odyssey no one can prepare us for. No amount of training or spiritual practice makes direct experience any less daunting.”
Alan Clements

If you limit your choices to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that’s left is compromise.
Robert Fritz

Are you waiting for things to be “just right” before you feel happy?
“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards. They try to have more of what they want so they will be happier.
The way it actually works is the reverse.
You first must be who you are, then love what you do, in order to have what you want.”
Margaret Young

“In every single thing you do, you are choosing a direction.
Your life is a product of choices.”
Dr. Kathleen Hall

“We all need to decide whether to “play it safe” in life and worry about the downside, or instead take a chance, by being who we really are and living the life our heart desires.
Which choice are you making? ”
Charlie

Do you find yourself avoiding change”
Change has a considerable psychological effect on the human mind.
To the fearful it is threatening because it means things might get worse.
To the hopeful it is encouraging because things might get better.
To the confident it is inspiring because a challenge exists to make things better.
King Whitney Jr.

How can you focus on the positive while remaining aware of the need to change?

There are two primary choices in life- Accept conditions as they exist, or accept responsibility for changing them.
D. Waitley

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”
John Cage

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
Anatole France

Don’t change: Desire to change is the enemy of love.
Don’t change yourselves: Love yourselves as you are.
Don’t change others: Love all others as they are.
Don’t change the world: It is in God’s hands and he knows.
And if you do that change will occur
Marvelously in its own way and in its own time
Yield to the current of life unencumbered by baggage.
Anthony de Mello

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”
Edith Wharton

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder – 4

1. Introduction

Today is part 4 in a series of “thoughts to ponder”. What I have been doing is going back into my warehouse of stored quotes and, and adding a bit here and there.

If you have been enjoying what you have been reading, please drop me a line and let me know.

And oh… Our complimentary stress management course is attracting more people every week. Why not give it a try? There is a sign-up link to the right.

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Be sure to find the guiding light in your life!

Guilding_light

Photo by Ruben Alexander

2. Questions to Ponder 4

Do you tend to live in your past rather than learn from your past?
Do you spend a good deal of your time recounting stories of difficult times you have had in the past? Do you spend a good deal of your time telling stories of positive outcomes you are expecting in the future? I think that very few people would be able to answer “Yes” to both of these questions!

What I have found over the course of my life is this- The more a person spends time telling “war stories” from their past, the less likely they are to have a satisfying future. Indeed, the more stuck people are by the challenges they face the more they tend to live their life from the perspective of their past, with little sense of a future that works.

“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”
Eyemadreamer

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.
Kahlil Gibran

Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices, and everything is possible.
Cherie Carter-Scott

When you are sitting in the midst of your problem,
what is more real to you – your problem,
or the fact of being here.
Your presence in the here and now is the ultimate fact.
Suzuki Roshi

Go, not knowing where
Bring, not knowing what
The path is long and the way unknown
The hero knows not how to arrive there by himself
Russian fairy tale

“The future, is no more uncertain than the present.”
Walt Whitman

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Mother Teresa

“Today is yesterday’s pupil.”
Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t go backwards, you have already been there.”
Ray Charles

Do you beat yourself up for not being perfect?
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”
Sam Keen

Is it not our imperfections that make us perfect?
Charlie

Haim bought the perfect suit!
Haim went to a tailor, and tried on a suit.
As he stood before the mirror, he noticed the right hand side of the suit jacket was lower than the left hand side.

“Oh,” said the tailor, “Don’t worry about that. Just hold the left side down with your left hand and it will be perfect.”

As Haim proceeded to do this, he noticed the right lapel of the jacket curled up some instead of lying flat.

“Oh that?” said the tailor. “That’s nothing. Just turn your head to the right and hold the lapel down with your chin and it will be perfect.”

Haim complied, and as he did so he noticed the length of the pants was a little short and he felt the crotch was a bit too tight.
“Oh, that’s not a problem,” said the tailor. “Just pull the crotch down some with your right hand. Not only will the length of the pants increase, but you’ll have more room in that all important area as well.”

Although Haim felt somewhat awkward doing all of the hand and head movements, he agreed with the tailor that the suit was an excellent value and he purchased it.
The next day was a holiday, and Haim decided to stroll around the neighborhood showing off his new suit. As he limped through the park with his chin holding down the lapel, his left hand tugging on the suit jacket, his right hand pulling his crotch… two old men stopped playing checkers to watch him stagger by.
“Sidney, oh, my God!’ said the first man. ‘Look at that poor crippled man!’

Sidney reflected for a moment, and then replied….
‘Yes, Moshe, the crippling is terrible, but you know I wonder… where in the world did he buy such a good looking suit?!”

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder – 3

1. Introduction

Well, our brand new site and community forum is finally up and running, and I am very pleased with the results. We have had close to 100 people register for our forum and complimentary stress management course in our very first week, and I feel gratified with all the support! Please do come and join us. If you are appreciating my newsletter then I think you will find a lot to appreciate in our forum and course. We have taken the principles I espouse here, and turned them into actionable activities.

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Make sure you taste life’s nectar!

Homing_in

Photo by Ruben Alexander

2. Questions to Ponder

Do you feel like something is missing in your life, that something is missing within yourself?

Realizing that you are always changing, how can you feel complete when your life is yet to be complete?

It is important to regularly update your perception of who you are. If not, you will be mistakenly perceiving yourself as you were in the past.

Do you appreciate who you are and the challenges you have successfully faced? If you don’t feel that something is missing in you, then you won’t feel that something is missing in your life.

Eugene O’Neill said, “Life is for each man a solitary cell, whose walls are mirrors.”

When you look to change what you see in the mirror, realize that the mirror is only reflecting what you believe to be true. Change your beliefs and you will change what the mirror reflects back to you.

Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

You will be happy when you are thankful for what you do already have. Chances are, that you take for granted the many things you have. This is a common “mistake” we all often make.

Are you so busy searching for answers that you don’t take the time to be happy?

Swami Chetanananda said, “Life is not about finding answers. It is about learning to live in the middle of complete uncertainty and doing so gracefully.”

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.”

Have you noticed that you tend to have an habitual way of responding to the world that stops you from responding in a more solution oriented manner? How would changing your beliefs change some of your habits?

Do you actively think about how you can help make those around you feel happy and fulfilled?

Doesn’t it make you feel good when you are around people who are playful and smile often?

Have you realized yet that regardless of the circumstances of your life, you can be happy?

Every time you find yourself feeling happy, you are investing in the future of yourself and those you care about.

You are your most important relationship. You must first have a healthy relationship with yourself before you can have a healthy relationship with others. The more you love and appreciate yourself the more you will be able to connect with others. The more you love and appreciate yourself the greater the likelihood of finding suitable, emotionally healthy partners.

Spend some time alone every day.
Spending some time by yourself will strengthen your ability to be in healthy relationships with others.

What will you need to do differently if you are to live the life you truly desire?

Are you uncertain about your path in life?
Pablo Neruda said,
“All paths lead to the same goal,
To convey to others what we are.
And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence, in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song–
But in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our consciousness.”

“If nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do.”
Carl Sagan

The goal you work on today, determines who you will be tomorrow.
If you don’t have a clear dream you are working to fulfill, it will be all too easy to give into the emotions of the moment.

Ask yourself,
“If I take this action now, how will I be impacting the course of my future?”

If not now, when?

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder – 2

1. Introduction

This newsletter finds us in the midst of another series of articles. What I am doing this time around is taking all the bits and pieces I have laying around, and threading them together for your consideration. I got a good deal of wonderful feedback on my first set of questions last newsletter, so I thought, “Why not?”.

Christmas is sneaking up on us. Please don’t overdo yourself!
In Japan, the average person, child or adult, only receives one, or two gifts at the most. I really like it that way!

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

You can use your mind to bend reality!

Bend_reality5d22e8c7e060

Photo by Ruben Alexander

2. Questions to Ponder 2

Once again, the task at hand is to give your primary attention to your breathing, and just let these questions float past you.
It will likely seem that some of these questions are more important for you than others. Once you have a sense of the most important questions for you, you can work on coming up with the answers over time.
••••

Have you stopped to consider that you might need to let go of the life you have planned, so you can engage in the life that is waiting for you?

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said, “On the day you were born, you begin to die. Do not waste a single moment more.”

If you are not prepared to die, chances are you are not fully prepared to live.

Do you worry about getting older?

“Wisdom, Integrity, Compassion, Wit,
These aren’t the virtues of youth.
They’re qualities earned through years of hard choices,
Brave decisions,
Bold ideas,
And when these qualities are present in a person,
Others see a life well lived.”
Taken from a “Crown” Birthday Card

The older you get, the more you will realize just how short your lifespan is. The exesses you refrain from taking part in today, will make your life just a little bit longer, and a lot more fulfilling.

Realizing that you only have a limited time to live, do you feel like you are spending your time wisely?

Life is short, so it is best to move slowly.

Arthur Schopenhauer said, “After your death you will be what you were before your birth.”

Are you afraid that you will never be successful?

“To laugh often and much,
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children,
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends,
To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition,
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, What better way could there be to measure success?”

Are you missing out on life, by spending most of your time trying to be successful?

Are you perhaps even reducing your life expectancy trying to “get ahead”?

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you for following your heart?

Have you realized yet that being true to your heart’s desires takes a lot of courage?

Instead of lamenting your past, what would your life be like if you focused on making the most of what you have now?

If you find yourself complaining about how much work it will take to achieve your desired goal, then almost certainly you will never achieve your goal. Most anything truly worth achieving will not come easily. Which is all the more reason to work hard.

If happiness was the currency of your realm, what kind of activities and relationships would make you wealthy?

The world isn’t what it is. The world, and thus your life, is what you make it.

Are you ready to stop comparing yourself to others, and appreciate who you are?

“’I am not you,
I am something like you,
I am nothing but you.”

Or, as E. E Cummings said,
To be nobody but yourself,
In a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else,
Means to fight the hardest battle anyone can ever fight,
And never stop fighting.

Think first about how far you have come, before considering how far you feel you still need to go.

Socrates said, “To do is to be.”
Plato said, “To be is to do.”
LaoTsu said, “The way to do is to be.”

If not now, then when?

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

The Circle of Life

Introduction

My mom passed away on December 11, 2010.
I wrote this newsletter then to commemorate her passing.

I am publishing it again today, with the hope that it will help you to ponder the circle of your life.

Christmas is sneaking up on us. Please don’t overdo yourself! In Japan, the average person, child or adult, only receives one, or two gifts at the most. I really like it that way!

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

The wonder of a beautiful morning!

From_a_distance

The Circle of Life

Shortly after being diagnosed with late stage brain cancer, my mom began to lose her ability to communicate in words. She went from saying “I’m thirsty, please give me a glass of water.” to eventually only being able to say, “Water!”. Her ability to understand what was being said held up well, but the brain power necessary for her to craft a verbal response lessened day by day.

I wasn’t about to let the decline in my mom’s verbal skills, hinder our ability to “talk”. I created and taught her a simple series of hand signals, and most importantly a “secret” winking system, so we could continue to communicate just as we always had. This was particularly important when my mom wanted to say something private to me when others were in the room.

A wink of the right eye by either one of us, meant everything was fine.

A wink of her left eye meant my mom didn’t care for what was happening, or that she was in pain. Once, when a friend brought her some homemade food she didn’t particularly care for, she blinked her left eye at me twice, and then winked once with her right eye as she turned and smiled at her friend.

I deeply enjoyed how clever and playful my mom was being, and I was reminded of when I followed a similar learning path with my daughter.

When I first began to teach my daughter Marina to wink, it was the same pattern you notice with most children. The first thing she did was blink both eyes and then look at me a bit confused. She knew she hadn’t accomplished a wink, but she had no idea what went wrong. I winked at her again, and she gave me back another double blink. At this point I felt like I could literally see the wheels turning inside her head, and I was fascinated to engage my daughter in such elemental learning.

As you might have already discovered for yourself, in many ways aging is the mirror opposite of growing up. When growing up, we develop and hone new skills. As we age, some of what we’ve learned fades away, and we wind up being more childlike once again.

As my mom’s condition continued to decline, she lost her ability to wink with one eye and could only manage a two eyed blink. In most instances I could still understand the meaning of her communication, based on whether or not she was smiling.

In the last hours of my mom’s life, keeping her eyes open was more than she could manage. She laid in bed with her eyes closed as she gave every ounce of remaining energy to simply breathing.

Holding my mom’s head in my hands I told her over and over again that God was waiting for her. As I kept up a steady breathing rhythm to help support her own breathing, I said, “Now is the time… Now is the time… This is the perfect moment… I can hear God calling your name… He’s calling you to come back home.”

At the very end, my mom’s laboured breathing calmed down a bit and she opened her eyes and blinked twice. At that moment I clearly knew she was giving me a “Yes” signal. Letting me know she was OK, and ready to leave.

Upon closing her eyes she took one last breath and gently released herself into the ocean of life.

For me, her passing felt very similar to the wonderful energy that filled the room when my daughter Marina was born. I felt very blessed to be so fully immersed in the circle of life.

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder

1. Introduction

Today’s newsletter comes from one of the lessons in our upcoming year long stress management course. Hopefully these questions will lead you to think about the life you truly want to be living.

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

Sometimes it is good to just float
along with life and see where it takes you.

2. Questions to Ponder

Here is a quote from Benjamin and Rosamund Zander,
“In the measurement world, you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold.”

I believe this way of thinking is helpful in regard to managing stress. Most people have lots of goals that they are striving to achieve, and in their desire to be more successful, they try and push through life, rather than allowing life to unfold.

What I am suggesting is that you learn how to relax, and let life come to you. That you set a context, create the environment, the set of cirumstances, that will give you the best chance of feeling at ease and in control of your life.

And when I say that it helps to feel at ease, and in control of your life, I am not suggesting that you can be in control of everything that goes on around you. What I am saying is that you can be in control of how you react to what goes on around you, and the plans you make. As you calm yourself, and come to understand what you truly want in life, then you will become better able to let life unfold, and make course corrections as necessary.

In life, it is easy to be reactive to the challenges that are right in front of you. And when you are reactive you tend to not fully think through a situation, and instead act impulsively.
The key to right action is to be calm, have a good measure of self confidence, and learn how to take in the big picture, so that you can ask the right questions.

And to ask the right questions, you need a good understanding of the situation you are facing. And sometimes asking the right question can help to clarify what is truly important. So I suggest to you now, that asking the right questions is more important than having the right answers. And certainly The right question is more important than the right answer to the wrong question!

I ask you to consider the following questions, because I think by pondering over what is asked, you will become better able to set a healthy context for your life, and then let your life unfold, as you continue to make the course corrections that will lead you to feel calm and in control of your emotions.

The task at hand is to give your primary attention to your breathing, and just let the questions float past you.

No need to answer all of these questions now. What is important is to find the questions that are most important to you. These will be your “right questions” and it will likely seem that certain questions stick out much more than others. Once you have a sense of what the most important questions are for you, little by little you can work on coming up with the answers that will help you to live the life you truly desire.

Which is worse, failing, or never having given an all out effort?

Since we can learn valuable lessons from our mistakes, why are we usually so afraid to make mistakes?

Is it really possible to live a life without mistakes?

What criteria do you use to determine whether or not you are living the life you truly desire?

Are these the criteria you want to base your life on?

Why do we tend to do so many things we don’t like, and like so many things we don’t do?

Are you responsible for the consequences of your choices?
Being responsible for one’s thoughts and actions, is very different than looking to assign blame.

Do you realize that you can show keen judgment without the need to be judgmental?

Do you appreciate yourself for who you are, or judge yourself for who you are not?

Are you caught in a job or career that you don’t really care for?
If so, are you making a detailed plan that can help you to do the kind of work that you really want to be doing?

Have you figured out yet, that not getting everything you want is an essential part of happiness?

Are you doing what you believe in, or are you simply doing whatever is in front of you at the moment?

Realizing that you only have a limited time to live, do you feel like you are spending your time wisely?

If you could give a young child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

If you would give yourself just one piece of advice, what would it be?

What will you do differently after receiving this advice?

Are you holding onto people or circumstances from your past, that you might be better off letting go of?

Rather than saying that you feel the way you do because of your current circumstances, how can you change the way you feel and what you believe in, as first steps in changing your circumstances?

Do you have a dream that you are actively engaged in making a reality, or are you just living day by day?

What will you need to do differently if you are to live the life you truly desire?

What is it that makes you, you?

If someone asked a friend to describe the kind of person you are, what would your friend be most likely to say?

If you had the chance to describe yourself, what would you say?

How is it you would like to be remembered?

Are you working towards building a legacy?

Are you the kind of friend you would want as a friend?

What are you most grateful for?

And what else?

And what else?

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
What will you need to do to feel that way more often?

What is your definition of success?

What do you love?

Who do you love?

What is your definition of what it means to love another person?

Do you realize that appreciating others is the best way to receive appreciation from others?

Have you realized yet that change is inevitable, but suffering is optional?

If not now, then when?

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

Neural Networks

Introduction

Little by little the weather is changing here in Tokyo. Sometimes cold, sometimes warm and sunny, sometimes chilly rain. Winter can’t be too far away!

The Beta Testers for the Seishindo Stress Management program have been getting started, and I hope to soon offer the course to all of you. Still working on untold small tweaks to get the entire software program up to speed.

In each of our lives, we have to work at balancing our emotions and our logical mind, and this is what I write about in this newsletter.

I hope you derive value in what you read!

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

Remember to play!

Play_Button

2.The neural networks of emotion and logic

Recent scientific research shows that people find it difficult to be empathetic and analytical at the same time. When your brain activates the neural network that makes it possible for you to feel your emotions, it suppresses the neural network used to be analytical. You might have noticed just this if you have ever fallen in love with someone, only to later find out that their way of being in the world does not match your ideals.

You will have also noticed how these two neural networks cancel each other out if you have ever asked yourself how a politician or business leader could have made such a heartless decision. The more analytic a leader is the less able they are to consider the human cost of their decisions. Due to our neurology, it is indeed a challenge to be both empathetic and analytical at the same time.

Over the years, I have developed an intuitive understanding of this phenomenon in my work with clients. When people are feeling stuck and unable to change, they either get overwhelmed by their emotions, and inhibit their capacity to be analytical and act logically, or they are overly analytical and cannot tap into the emotions that would lead to a heartfelt decision. When people feel challenged they tend to either make goals for themselves that do not take their emotions into account, or vice versa

One of the main tasks we face when wanting to live a fulfilling life is learning how to cycle from one neural network to the other, rather than overusing one network at the expense of the other. Learning how to cycle between both networks is thus a basic aspect of my coaching.

How to accomplish this?

By gently leading my clients to activate whichever neural network is being underused.

When a client tends to be overly analytical I ask them questions like,
“How do you feel when you act the way you have been acting?”
“How would you like to be feeling right now?”
“How do others feel when you act the way you do?”
“If you were already feeling happy and fulfilled, how would you be living your life differently?”
I encourage them to activate their emotional network while allowing their analytical network to rest.

When a client tends to be overly emotional I ask them questions like,
“Do you have a plan you are following?”
“If not, what plan seems to make the most sense right now?”
“If you were to advise someone who was having problems similar to yours, what would you say to them?”
“Please name one or two short term goals you have for yourself.”
I encourage them to be more analytical and less emotional.

In both instances I ask my clients to breathe fully, release excess muscular tension, sit in a well balanced open posture, and slow down. When they do so they find themselves much more capable of accessing the kind of thinking and feeling that will lead them to live the life they are truly desiring.

When you engage in balancing your neural networks what you will notice is, you tend to use one neural network more so than the other in a way that is habitual. Not all that different from using your right hand for some tasks and your left hand for other tasks. One of your two neural networks becomes “primed” to be the most active. Thus you need to gently lead yourself to cycle between both networks so that you can develop a way of being in the world that leads to a sense of emotional and logical fulfillment. When you learn how to cycle efficiently between both networks you find yourself developing an holistic point of view that embraces both logic and emotion. Less of “this” or “that” and more of both.

With a little practice and training, you will find yourself much better able to live the life you desire!

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Wide-angle Perspective

1. Introduction

I am very happy to announce that we finally have begun to send our stress management course to our Beta Testers! We believe we have created something special and would love to have you join us. Some time in the next couple of weeks I will send out an announcement inviting everyone to take our beginner’s course. Stay tuned!

Charlie

View your challenges from a distance.

view_from_distance

Photo by: Yvonne Rikkenberg

2. Wide-angle Perspective

Your physiology plays a major role in determining your emotional state and how you perceive the world. I have written about this on many occasions. Usually when I write about physiology I emphasize the importance of your breathing and posture, and today I would like to take this concept a bit further by writing about how you and your world change when you slow down and allow yourself to have an open focus, wide angle perspective. When you change the way you attend to life you change your experience of yourself and the world you live in.

Invariably, when you experience stress you feel incapable of cultivating the life experience you deeply desire, and that is much of what stress is all about- Feeling incapable or out of control. When you feel stressed you perceive yourself and the world around you in a tight focus. The tighter your focus, the more you miss out on the many opportunities for change that are all around you. When you are stressed it is like looking at the world through a telephoto lens. A lens that only allows for a narrow field of view and a magnified image of your perceived problem. The tighter your focus the larger your problem appears to be, the more alone you feel, and the less you breathe. The tighter your focus the more the present moment and your potential future gets overwhelmed by your past!

When you change your perspective to open focus-wide angle, you come to realize that you have only been constructing one of many possible realities. Change the way you focus and attend to the world and you will change your reality and your sense of what is possible. Learning and the living of one’s life, is a creative act of self-discovery in which you extract meaning from everything you encounter. You are constantly engaged in the artful and “artificial” synthesis of diverse and paradoxical fragments of “information” into a new integrated whole.

When you are experiencing stress you lose your sense of context (circumstances and setting), proportion (the relationship of one “thing” to another), and scale (the relative size of one “thing” compared to another). The more exaggerated or out of whack these three components of your experience are, the more you will experience anxiety, fear, and stress.

So what to do?

You can change the way you pay attention, which in turn will change what you pay attention to, which in turn will change your perception of what is possible. When your awareness is expansive and wide angle you can achieve a deeper fuller sense of being an active participant in life, an active player in life, an active team member, who is not alone and separate.

You can cultivate the capacity to have a compassionate, composed experience of your life. An experience that is expansive, multidimensional, and multicolor. An experience similar to the many times in your life when you felt great and had the sense that your life really can be all that you have been hoping for.

Slow down your thinking mind by breathing fully, sit up straight, tense and then release various muscle groups throughout your body, place your current challenge in the context of your entire life, and look at your challenge from a distance with the perspective of a wise person. Consider the many resources you have available to you, and the many other times you have overcome challenges. Imagine your have already overcome your challenge, and ask yourself “What did I do to accomplish this?” Let the answer to this question “come to you” slowly over time. You really do have the ability to achieve all you truly desire!

My stress management course has exercises that will help you to change into a wide angle perspective. In a few weeks time you will be able to sign-up for our five week complimentary program.

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 4

1. Introduction

This newsletter is the fourth and last in my series on “brain lock”.

Hopefully you have found this series to be insightful and thought provoking. I would love to hear from you regarding what I have written

Regards,

Charlie

Whatever you experience, it depends on your frame of reference.

taj
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock”- Part 4

Engage your challenges a little bit at a time

We have many, many emotional reactions in our lives prior to thinking, If a man pulls out a gun while you are waiting in line at the bakery, chances are your pulse immediately quickens and you might even begin to sweat. Once you realize the gun is only a toy and the man hands it to his son to play with, you will likely soon calm down again.

Because we have a visceral response to emotionally charged events or relationships prior to thinking, we often wind up reacting in a way that defies logic, even when we desperately want to be logical.

No matter how many times we might tell someone, “There is no need to be afraid.”, if they sense danger they will respond with fear. Such responses quickly get passed to long-term memory and thus we will tend to easily reproduce the same fearful reaction to dangerous situations in the future. In other words, good or bad, right or wrong, many of our emotional responses are learned over time.

So what to do?

In my coaching practice I have my clients pay attention to the physiological responses they have when feeling challenged, more so than having them talk about their challenges. I do so for two reasons.

1) The physiological reactions that lead to emotional responses are activated outside of our conscious awareness.

We don’t really know “how” we create the feelings we have, and thus talking about our feelings, our emotions, often won’t get us the results we desire. Indeed the more we talk about a particular feeling (let’s use “stress” as an example), the more we will activate the physiological responses that lead to feeling stressed. The more we talk about a perceived problem, the further away we get from uncovering the solution we desire.

2) Logic does not play an important role in the development of undesired emotional states. In order to change our emotions we usually have to go beyond logic, and reach or touch a more primal elementary aspect of our experience, our self.

During my coaching sessions I teach my clients how to breathe in a slow expansive manner and adjust their posture so that they feel fully alive and resourceful. Once they are feeling resourceful I introduce a topic they have been struggling with. Rather than asking them to describe their struggle in detail, I ask them to just mention their struggle, and then place it aside while they refocus their attention on their breath and posture. Next, I ask my client to tell me about something in life that pleases them. Once the client has returned to feeling calm and resourceful I ask them to again mention their struggle, and then again refocus on their breath, posture, and a pleasing experience. Soon, they learn to think about their struggle while at the same time maintaining a sense of feeling calm and resourceful. In the process, they learn how to rewire their brain and do away with past compulsive behavior caused by “brain lock”.

Rather than having my client talk about their “stress, Stress, STRESS!”, I lead them to experience calmness, a little stress, calmness, a bit more stress, and eventually a feeling of calm resourcefulness, as their stress reactions slowly dissolve. Fairly soon, what was once experienced as an insurmountable set of circumstances, comes to be experienced as a challenge they feel capable of overcoming.

This really is a graceful, life affirming way to engage one’s challenges!

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 3

1. Introduction

Once again, thanks for the feedback on my recent newsletters. It is always great to hear from people, and know for sure that my work is “reaching” you.

This newsletter in my third in a series on “Unlocking your brain”.

Regards,

Charlie

Slow and steady is usually the best way forward!

snail
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock”- Part 3

The benefits and detriments of habits

Because of our instinct to survive, we have an evolutionary predisposition to pay attention to anything and everything that concerns our safety and well-being. If you had to think before you jumped out of the way of a speeding car, or if you had to make sense out of a loud noise before you reacted, chances are you would not be here to read these words!

We are all programmed to pay attention to anything that might threaten us or serve us, and we do so instinctively, prior to thinking. Lucky for us that we have this capacity to act before thinking, and on the other hand it is this very capacity that at times makes us illogical!

We are all creatures of habit. Some of our habits we learn through conscious repetition. If we had to start anew and learn how to drive a car each time we got behind the wheel, or if we had to re-learn how to tie our shoes every morning, life would be a lot more challenging to engage in! We learn how to perform these and many other tasks by consciously practicing until such time that we no longer need to think about what to do.

We also all have many other habits that we learn unconsciously, and thus we sometimes wind up having a great deal of trouble un-learning such habits. I had a client by the name of “Bill” who as a child in a new school was often belittled by his classmates when he asked the teacher a question. Now, even as a 35 year old adult he still shied away from asking questions. This “habit” created a lot of problems for him in his life, but try as he might he was unable to act differently, because he was stuck in a bit of “brain lock”.

Step 1. He realized he needed to ask a question.

Step 2. He become anxious about asking a question and thus diverted himself in some way.

Step 3. He defaulted back to Step 1, again realizing his need to ask a question, but once again quickly diverting his attention, and not raising his hand.
Here is how I helped Bill. Because he had no money to pay for sessions, I put him to work for me as my “assistant”. I gave a talk at a large conference and I brought Bill along and told him I needed to collect some important marketing information from the attendees. I instructed him to say and do the following: “After the talk is over I want you to go around, introduce yourself as my assistant, and say that I am asking participants for feedback regarding my talk. Then you are to ask them the three specific questions I have prepared for you. Be certain to speak to at least a half dozen people, and later I will debrief you on what was said.”

As I had guessed, because he was asking the questions for me, he did well at the task and was not anxious. Two weeks later at a small class I asked Bill to tell the other students that I had asked him to ask four specific questions about the theory of my work. He asked my questions with little hesitancy. During that same class I said to him in front of the group, “Well Bill, now, how about a question from you?” He asked a question with a bit of hesitancy, and I made sure to compliment him on the quality of his question.

Several other tasks like this were created for Bill, and after his“assistance” over the course of three months time he reported without my asking, that he was feeling a lot more confident and rarely struggled to ask important questions any more. Being that this is the third newsletter in this series, I will ask, “Do you understand the unlocking process I engaged in with Bill?”

Please write and let me know! Either way, “Yes, or, “No” I will be happy to hear from you!

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 2

1. Introduction

Summer is little by little starting to wane here in Tokyo.
Thank goodness! I am just not made for the combination of high heat and high humidity.

This newsletter is Part 2 in my series on “Unlocking Your Brain”. The theory and work described can yield great benefits, and I hope these newsletters help you get a taste of what is possible.

In this newsletter I will describe a client session to give you an idea of how this process can take place.

Regards,

Charlie

Your life is made up of patterns. Change the patterns and you change your life!

dots
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock”- Part 2

I have a client who I will call “Jim”.
(I have asked for “Jim’s” permission, and changed some details to make his identity hard to discern.)

Jim comes to me because he is creating problems for himself in regard to giving public talks, which is an important part of his job.

What happens is this-
He gets really anxious prior to giving a talk. So before leaving his office he finds numerous tasks that he compulsively feels he must complete before he goes out. He does things like answering emails, making calls to clients, and talking to his boss about an upcoming project. He leaves late and arrives to his talk late. Recently he has been arriving at his talks a half hour late and his audience is upset and restless, and the organizers are clearly annoyed. The interesting thing is, that he is actually a good presenter, and thus he has no idea why he gets so nervous beforehand.

I believe that trying to understand “why” he does what he does is a slippery path at best, so I suggest that we work on helping him to unlock his brain instead.

Here is the process we follow-
He lets me know the time for his next presentation and we agree to talk on the phone a half hour before he needs to leave, to arrive on time.

So he calls me at the appointed time, and,
Step One, he reports feeling anxious and out of sorts.
Just as we both expected.

Step Two, he says that he would love to change the way he is feeling.
We both agree that this is an excellent idea.

Step Three involves helping him unlock his brain.
I know Jim has a hobby that he is quite passionate about and I ask him to tell me in detail what his last outing was like. When he begins to talk he is still clearly upset but soon as he tells me about some of the high points of his adventure he starts to get animated, and the enjoyment he feels when engaging in his hobby becomes clearly palpable. He reminds me of a young child telling his father how much he enjoyed one of his summer adventures.

Jim carries on for about twenty minutes, and occasionally I interject statements like, “Wow, sounds like you were having a great time!”

Finally, I ask Jim how he is feeling now. He says, “Gee, I feel like I was just doing some wonderful time traveling!”

“Yes indeed!” I reply. “And now it is about time to leave for your talk. Are you ready to go?”

“Yes” he says, “More ready than I would have imagined!”

Turns out that he left on time and gave a great talk!

So what did we do? I helped him to unlock his brain.

Rather than staying stuck in running through Steps One and Two over and over again, Jim instead interrupted his pattern and engaged in talking about something enjoyable. The more he engaged in talking about what brings him joy, the more he dissolved his feeling of anxiousness.

He took the signal of anxiousness as a sign that he needed to, A. Stop what he was doing. B. Become mindful of his intention to perform with excellence, and C. Engage himself in a pleasurable activity as a way of unlocking his brain.

Jim and I engaged in a similar process two more times, and after that he let me know that he could now do the same on his own. He also said, “Wow, I have a whole new lease on life and I find that I am doing much better at accomplishing tasks at work that used to leave me feeling frazzled.”

You are capable of doing much the same.

Life affirming change is possible!

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 1

1. Introduction

Much of my work is a melding of principles I have learned in NLP, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Aikido, and Noguchi Sei Tai, as well as a lot of study in various disciplines such as Feldenkrais Method, Alexander Technique, and Craniosacral Therapy. What often happened in the past is, I discovered that two “different” subjects I was studying, were based on the same principles. This way of learning really excited me! Especially when I found a Japanese sensei teaching something that echoed what a Western teacher had said.

Over the years, a lot of what I learned has found its way into scientific research, and this also excites me as I find people from such disparate paths all touching some of the same basic “truths”.

Today I am going to start a new series of newsletters. I will be writing about what has recently come to be called “brain lock”. I am using the great book titled “The brain that changes itself” by Norman Doidge, as the reference point for this series. I have been on the trail of these ideas for quite some time, and this book really fits everything together in a clear, well thought out manner.

I hope you find these concepts as interesting as I do!

Regards,

Charlie

One small drop of change, can make a BIG difference!

small-drop-of-change
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 1

Many times, we find ourselves caught up in compulsive behavior. To use a stark example, let’s take a look at what “PubMed Health” says about OCD-
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).
Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety.”

When I look at this definition it certainly describes my behavior at times! And I think we can see that such behavior is often what we engage in when we feel stressed out, insecure, or addictive.

Recent scientific research tells us that compulsive behavior occurs when three different areas of the brain “lock up” and thus fail to act in a solution oriented, life affirming manner. When our brain “locks” we wind up believing that there is no other way to act, than to continue with our compulsion or addiction, regardless of the disappointing results we get. Sound at all familiar? 🙂

The three step locking process
1. You get a sense that something needs to be different, or that something is “not right.”
In short, you feel uneasy, and you don’t like the way you feel.

2. You become anxious and thus strive to change the way you feel.
Your anxiousness leads you to do things like smoke, drink, or eat an entire box of chocolates. (There are of course MANY other examples of compulsive behavior.)

3. Default back to steps 1 and 2.
When the brain is locked up, you don’t get a sense of having really taken care of your anxiety so you engage in steps 1 and 2 over and over again. And you wind up having another cigarette or drink, or another piece of chocolate. You act compulsively because you don’t get feedback that tells you that you have taken care of the situation, and you feel incapable of trying any other alternatives.

A solution to your compulsion IS possible though!

A three step Unlocking Process
1. You get a sense that something needs to be different, or that something is “not right.”

2. You become anxious and thus strive to change the way you feel.
This time around though, you realize that it your compulsive behavior that you need to change and that you need to do something different than usual, that will help you to feel at ease.

Because of the realization that you need to do something different, you engage in an activity that is life affirming and healthy, instead of your compulsive habit. You take a walk in the park, chat with a friend, play with your children, listen to music etc.

3. Upon engaging in an activity that helps you to feel at ease, your anxiety lessens, and you recognize that it is time to place your original concern aside and engage in the rest of what you need to be doing.

Easier said than done?

In the beginning yes, but even a few minutes spent doing something that is pleasing, before diving back into your compulsion, will weaken the strength of your brain lock. And then little by little, you will be able to spend enough time doing what is pleasurable, and find that your anxiety and addictive tendencies subside. As you create an alternative way to act, and thus feel, your brain “unlocks” and you become significantly less compulsive, and feel more at ease.

I am going to be writing more about this process, but I will tell you now that my experience with many clients over the years, leads me to understand the importance and power of unlocking your brain.

Life affirming change is possible, and YOU are capable of making the changes you desire!

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

The language of your body – Part 2

1. Introduction

We are in the midst of our usual hot summer weather here in Tokyo. It seems that many other places around the world are also experiencing a lot of heat. I hope you are taking it easy and finding ways to cool down!

Regards,
Charlie

Wake up to life!

stress-page-5
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. The language of your body – Part 2

A client who I will call “Jim” engages in video coaching with me, wanting to discuss his “utter failure” in his new job as a marketing manager. As he talks, I note that his shoulders are rounded forward, his trunk is tilted somewhat backwards, he rocks ever so much from side to side, and he talks rather quickly while breathing in a shallow manner. All these components of his physical behavior, when looked at as a non-verbal communication pattern, make up what in Seishindo, we call “the language of the body”, or “somatic language”.

Jim begins his session by communicating his “utter failure” with his body, and it is only after his body begins “talking” that he engages in a verbal description that matches what his body says.

When Jim is finished talking, I suggest that he tell me his story again, but only after first initiating a different set of body language patterns, so that he can begin his story from a different perspective. With my prompting, Jim rounds his shoulders back a little bit and opens up his chest, tilts his trunk forward ever so much, rocks gently from front to back, and breathes slowly and expansively. By doing what I suggest he begins to embody a different conversation. After he resumes talking he spontaneously says that he does not experience his situation as negatively as before. He makes this statement without any guidance from me.

I encourage Jim to continue talking while maintaining the new body language pattern I have suggested, and he soon mentions how his new job has given him the opportunity to learn unpleasant yet powerfully important lessens in regard to marketing. He says he now realizes that many of his past marketing assumptions needed to be changed to match the conditions of the current marketplace. He spontaneously begins to change his explanation from one of “utter failure” to “an embarrassing yet very necessary business lesson that he is thankful for”. He states how “not being right” in his new job has been tough on him, but that he actually is becoming a much better marketer than he was in the past!

He begins to understand experientially that to a large extent his emotional responses to circumstances and relationships, are initiated by his body. When he changes the way he uses his body, he changes the “conversations” his body engages in, which leads to a different understanding of his circumstances. When he begins to use his body in a relaxed and expansive manner, he has a new emotional understanding and appreciation for what has been taking place. This is a key learning I hope to share with all my clients. Rather than attempting to help people fix circumstances they perceive as negative, I instead strive to help them realize how they generate negative thinking with their body. When you learn how to use your body in a solution oriented manner, you wind up feeling much more able to successfully meet the challenges you face.

If you tense up your shoulder muscles, look down toward your feet, and breathe in a shallow manner you will not report feeling relaxed and confident, and yet this is exactly what clients will often do prior to explaining how they would like to feel more relaxed and confident!

The way you use your body, sets in motion the emotional tone for the way you think and feel. When feeling challenged, it is crucial that you begin by first using your body in a solution oriented manner, prior to engaging in verbal descriptions of how your are stymied. Much more than most people realize, when you describe a situation that has been problematic for you in the past, what you are really doing isembodying your problem in the moment. My suggestion is to start out by communicating well-being and competency with your body, and then see how that changes your experience of past events. A body that communicates in a positive manner, leads to solution oriented thinking. When you change the way you use your body, you change the way you think and feel, and what you believe to be possible!

Regards,
Charlie

The language of your body – Part 1

1. Introduction

It is my hope, that you find my newsletters both insightful and entertaining. Sometimes I focus more on the entertainment, and sometimes more on offering insight.

Today’s newsletter is the first of a two part series, explaining how Seishindo practitioners think about and utilize “the language of the body” when working with clients.

I hope that in some small way, this newsletter leads you to reconsider who you are!
Charlie

butterfly
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. The language of your body- Part 1

The language your body uses to communicate, is at least as sophisticated, systematic, and complete as the verbal language you speak. The “wiring” for your somatic language begins its development while you are inside your mother’s belly, and it forms the foundation of your verbal language patterns, memories, learned responses, and emotional make-up.

The language spoken and understood by your body, is what enables you to make meaning out of your experience prior to understanding your native tongue. It remains your primary means of understanding your experience, throughout the course of your life.

In her book “Molecules of Emotion” scientific researcher Candace Pert says, “There are receptors (sensing molecules that exist throughout our system) and ligands (substances that bind to the receptors and help to create all of the chemical reactions necessary to run our system) that can be considered to be “information molecules.”

She refers to these molecules as the basic units of a language used by cells throughout the organism to communicate.

In his book “The Second Brain” Dr. Michael Gershon says that neurotransmitters are the “words” nerve cells use for communicating.

These two renowned scientists are telling us that we all “speak,” “listen to,” and understand a primary language that does not depend on our verbal abilities. This “other” language is what in Seishindo we call “the language of the somatic self”, or, “the language of the body”.

The language of your somatic self does not use or require verbal language, although it interacts with it continually, like a music group improvising with a singer, or a horse and rider traversing a path in the forest. This language of your somatic self is a primary communication and information exchange that makes it possible for you to connect to and understand, the workings of your body and brain, your personal sense of “self”, your relationship with others, and the world around you. Somatic language makes it possible for you to make meaning out of your experience prior to learning your native tongue. It is part of the mammalian consciousness that all mammals share. It is intuitive and relational in nature and seems to direct us to join with other life. Just like words are systematically and artfully joined together to form the content of your verbal language as spoken by your cognitive self, the various components of your sensory experience are systematically and artfully joined together to form the language of your somatic self. This language makes it possible for you to intuitively understand and direct all of the massive information exchange your body takes part in, in collaboration with the brain. It is a language of immediate experience as compared to verbal language being a communication of abstractions.

Your body is a tireless worker, attempting to protect and nurture you at every given moment. It is crucial that you learn to appreciate, understand, and heed what it has to say!

Instead of simply agreeing with Descarte and saying, “I think, therefore I am.” I believe you will be much better served by considering this statement as an alternative, “I listen to the communication of my body, in order to better understand who I am.” Living a fulfilling life requires a lot more than just thinking and logic!

Be still, and only listen.
Your body has many life affirming messages that it would like you to understand.
Life affirming messages that are crucial for your health, and emotional well-being.

Warmly,
Charlie

Integrative Hypnosis

1. Introduction

For the first time ever in my newsletter, I want to present the work of a colleague. Melissa Tiers is a very talented practitioner whose work mirrors much of what I do. By this I mean, that we work in different ways, while following many of the same principles. I particularly love how Melissa maintains a wide open frame to work within, staying open to the many levels of communication that take place in every interaction. She exhibits a deep faith in the ability of her clients to change and prosper.

This interview with Melissa is excerpted from an interview she did with The International Association of Counselors and Therapists.

If you would like to find out more about Melissa’s work please follow this link: http://melissatiers.com/

You can consider this article to be a high quality addition to the four part series I just presented on Seishindo MindBody Coaching.

2. The language of your body – Part 1

IACT: Hello Melissa. Perhaps we could begin by asking what integrative hypnosis means to you.

MT: Integrative hypnosis, to me, means that I have the freedom to do whatever works. It’s an umbrella, under which I combine ideas and processes from Classical and Ericksonian hypnosis, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Cognitive Behavioral and Energy Psychology and whatever else comes to me in the moment with a client. I think it’s also about an integration of all aspects of the body/mind. I consider integrated change to include neurological patterns, an awareness of the biochemical interplay of emotions, and the energetic system. I think physical change is a natural progression of that. We help people shift their whole “gestalt” and allow for more generative change.The whole unit of self is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.

IACT: The history of results using Integrative Hypnosis is quite compelling. Nearly every professional has an ‘aha’ moment when they know this is the kind of work they want to focus on. What experience brought you to this point in your career.

MT: I think for me it was a series of aha moments that brought me to this work. I would have to say I was always fascinated by altered states of consciousness. Once I got a glimpse of the malleability of mind and perception, I never stopped searching for the boundaries of what was possible.

I have been constantly amazed and humbled by what people were capable of changing. I think the most exciting thing about this field of work is that it keeps expanding. With every new research study, every shift in neuroscience and mind/body medicine, we get to create new interventions. I think we are so lucky to be at the cutting edge of consciousness. I actively seek aha moments every day. And I’m happy to say, I usually find them.

IACT: Do you have a preferred technique you like to use and can you give us an example?

MT: I have so many techniques I love to share with my clients but none that I would say is the preferred technique. I’m a firm believer in utilization so that I never know what I’m going to do until the client is in front of me. This way I go by the language used, the gestures and metaphors, the clients inner strategy for doing the problem, the beliefs that hold it together and all the other resources the client brings in.

If the client describes a lump in their throat, I might have them place their awareness there and explore changing the shape and color of the lump, or listening to what that lump has to communicate. If a client says they have an overwhelming emotion, we might drop down to see what’s underneath the emotion, or use the emotion as a bridge back to where we need to go, in order to change.

I think there is a basic structure to change. A four step pattern that is the foundation for just about every change process. So as long as I keep that in mind and know which step the client is in, any ritual or process can be the preferred technique in that moment.

IACT: Can you expound on the basic structure of change and this four step pattern?

MT: If you imagine that when your client is in their problem state, awash with negative emotions, it’s like they’re wearing a particular pair of glasses that colors everything they can think of. If they are depressed then everything they think of from their past and future is depressing because the brain sorts by emotional/biochemical states. So they say things like, “nothing ever goes right” or “everything in my life is a mess” or “nobody loves me” Step one is getting the client to access their problem state, so we can see what that looks like as well as find the trigger that makes the problem state “automatic”.

Now we have an infinite amount of ways to do step two, which is “dissociation”. Think of it like having the client take off the colored glasses they were wearing in their problem state. Whether we use a relaxed trance to dissociate, have them watch a movie of the problem scene, or have them pull out the kinesthetic aspects, like a spinning feeling in the body,  we are inviting them to step out of their problem state. Dissociation is like removing the emotion from the memory.

Step three involves having the client access a resource state, to help them experience how they want to feel when facing their problem. If you tried to do this without the dissociation of step two they would have a much harder time coming up with a resource or a solution because they would still be stuck in the negative emotional state, so every solution would be clouded by that.

We all do this pattern in many different ways. If you think of a typical hypnosis session we get the client into trance (a neutral dissociated state) and give positive  suggestions or visualizations to get them into a wonderful state. Or if you help the client regress back to the cause of their problem, it’s when you bring in the resources to comfort, forgive or even just inform the younger self. So step three helps the client put on a very different pair of glasses, so they can see other options, opportunities and solutions.

Then in step four we bring the resource state to their initial problem “trigger” so they can experience their problem from the perspective of having the necessary resources to solve their problem. From a resource state of strength, confidence, forgiveness ,or any other more positive state we have them look at the problem. Then we condition the resource state to become the response that crops up as an alternative way of reacting to their initial problem. Now their problem state becomes the trigger for the resource state. Then we future pace to various examples in the past, where they might have had a problem, but now can feel the resource state come up instead. This allows the change to spread and become generative.

I should also mention the fact that some of my most powerful learning has come from the clients that I didn’t help as much as I would have liked. They inspired me to keep trying new approaches, expanding my tool kit and sometimes changing my whole view of certain conditions. I think these sessions taught me how to dance in ways I never knew I could.

IACT: In closing, what final thoughts would you like to leave us with regarding Integrative Hypnosis and it’s impact on the clients we assist.

MT: I think it’s important to remember that there are many ways to change and that ultimately we do what the client believes they need in order to heal. Not what webelieve they need. If we shift beliefs congruently then the inner healing process gets activated. Research on the placebo effect gives us a glimpse into what’s possible when we believe.

So having many different approaches gives us that flexibility. I’m willing to think outside the box because I ditched the box years ago, and thus I no longer know exactly what to expect.

Regards,

Charlie

A Description of the Seishindo MindBody Coaching – Part 4

1. Introduction

This is the last in a series of articles describing the concepts involved in Seishindo MindBody Coaching. I hope that what I have written offers you a life affirming way to engage in the world.

If you haven’t read the first three articles in this series, you might want to begin here.

We had a typhoon come by last week, but the weather in Tokyo is beautiful now. This is a pretty time of year, and soon the heat will be upon us full blast!

Regards,

Charlie

forest-thru-the-trees
Photo; Yvonne Rikkenberg

2. A description of Seishindo MindBody Coaching- Part 4

I would like to help you understand that your “symptoms” or “problems” alert you to the fact that what you are currently doing is not working all that well. Every symptom or seeming problem is thus a communication of a positive need for change. As you learn how to trust in your ability to change and prosper, you will realize that your problem is not a problem.

Do your best to understand the emotions you express, while at the same time striving to stay somewhat emotionally neutral. In other words, appreciate and honor your emotional state, while continuing to believe that something life affirming is in the process of unfolding.

As you learn to slow down you will become better able to pay attention to what you do not say or do. “Doing nothing” is a very rich form of communication!

Please stay away from trying to logically understand why you do what you do. because your logical mind is usually not capable of solving the paradox you are grappling with. You will likely need to somehow surprise yourself in the course of discovering your solutions.

When you breathe, adjust your posture, and keep an expansive focus of attention, you will cultivate the ability to rest in your place of “not knowing”. Slow down, stop talking and just feel, as you wait for the answers you have been searching for. This process is similar to waiting for a friend you have not seen in a long time, to arrive on your doorstep.

Surrender to the moment, using your thinking mind to notice everything in and around you. You can breathe and be curious while waiting to receive the solutions that show up.

I will help you get to an experience of “pre-verbal knowing”- Making way for the knowledge and wisdom that is deeper and fuller than what can be described in words.

Every seeming “negative” has a mirror image “positive” aspect. Every weakness you have is also a strength, and every strength a weakness.

You have a “resource state” and this way of being in the world needs to be experienced more so than talked about. When you reside in your resource state you will be oriented towards positive outcomes. When you reside in your resource state you move towards your goal, and what you say and do, matches what you think and feel. This state is ephemeral in nature, so you will find it many times, and also lose it many times.

I want to help you experience that “mind” and intelligence are present in every cell of your body, The whole of who you are is much more than the sum of your parts.

Through the experience of coaching you will come to realize that traveling back to your past memories when wanting to solve a problem, will usually only make you feel incapable of change. I therefore invite you to bring your problems into the present moment, as you have many resources now that were not available to you in the past.

Being engaged in actively finding solutions, is very different than trying to determine “right and wrong.”

As most every successful person knows, failing does not feel good, but you learn much more from your failures than you do from your triumphs. Learn from your past, rather than living in your past.

Every successful search for a solution has a “tipping point” where you start to realize positive change is possible. These “Ah hah!” moments almost always occur prior to knowing what the actual solution is.

You are in the process of needing and desiring to express the fullness of who you are. Slow down, trust in yourself, and trust in the moment. You already have access to everything your heart truly desires!

Regards,

Charlie

A Description of the Seishindo MindBody Coaching – Part 3

1. Introduction

This is the third newsletter in a series that describes the process of Seishindo MindBody Coaching. I am offering this series as a way to support you in being a “change agent” to others who need help. If you have yet to read the first two articles in this series, please go here.

In the last newsletter I said that I wanted to find the most artful way to talk about the process of coaching others, and I asked for some advice. Thanks to those of you who wrote! Your wisdom is very much appreciated. Taking the advice offered, in this newsletter I am going to “talk” to you as if I was taking you through a session with me.

Once again, please let me know what you think about the process, and please offer me feedback!

For those of you fairly new to my writing and style…
The process I describe below, I would only engage in once my client and I had a good comfortable feeling for each other. I would only be suggesting any of what follows if my client was happy to explore such a process with me.

Regards,
Charlie

2. Life as art–A description of Seishindo MindBody Coaching- Part 3

As we begin today, I would like to borrow a concept from Self-relations Therapy, and invite you to use each and every event and experience you encounter, to awaken to the goodness and gifts of the self, the world, and the connections between the two.

So rather than slipping into a place of dismay and frustration because you feel stuck, you can take the role of my client, and imagine you are in the midst of creating a movie about your life. You can consider yourself to be the lead character in this movie, the director, and even the composer of the sound track that will eventually be selling as a CD!

As you begin to approach your challenge as an artist would begin a new project… Slow down and notice the finer points that will lead to creating something heartfelt and poignant. As you begin to try out the lines of your script, speak in a way that allows your words to resonate and fill the space we are in. I encourage you to imagine we are sitting in a theater that has great acoustics. The only audience being just the two of us. I invite you to imagine this theater as a safe environment that is much bigger than your perceived problem. At some point in this process you will begin to hear the difference between when your voice is held back and constrained, and when your voice is resonant, clear, and filled with spirit. When you voice is held back and constrained, the same will be true for your creativity and problem solving skills. When you voice is resonant solutions will start to become more apparent.

Next, attune to the rhythm of your words, as you listen for and feel how your expression reverberates both within you and out into the space around us, both logically and emotionally. I gently encourage you to breathe, relax, and “speak your soliloquy with a calm presence”. I will move with you as a way to better feel the cadence of your words. Then after a short while, please slow down the tempo and simplify what you are expressing. Say and do “just enough”. Less will get you more.

Little by little, as you slow down and simplify, you will begin to move closer to your solution. Little by little, as I get in rhythm with you, you will begin to realize you are not alone in this world. As we build a sense of harmony and trust between us, I will likely offer you some accompanying lines, to enrich your script.

Now is a good time to modulate the outpouring of your energy, and to lessen the intensity of your presentation. I am suggesting that you stay within a certain threshold of expression, so you can keep your whole self engaged, and not feel overwhelmed. This will allow you to tap into resources that are outside of your everyday awareness. The idea is to get energized by the challenges you face, rather than contracting, and tensing your muscles and your thinking mind. You will be able to recruit and utilize more and more of yourself, as you educate and retune your nervous system over time.

At this point I also want to invite you to notice “negative space”. The space between and around the main topic of your conversation.

In photography, negative space is the area which surrounds the main subject in a photo, with the main subject being considered as “positive space”. Negative space defines and emphasizes the main subject as part of a larger whole. It provides “breathing room” and allows for a more balanced perspective. Negative space gives your eyes somewhere to rest and prevents your subject from appearing overly large or out of proportion. Notice how you can change your reaction to your challenge, as you place it in a spacious setting. (See the photos below.)

Here is a close-up picture of a bug with almost no background (very little negative space)
Bug-large

Below is a picture of the same bug, with lots of background (negative space).
Which picture do you prefer?

Even though it is the same bug, does it appear at all different in the two photos?
Bug-small
Photos: Ruben Alexander

At this point you have once again accomplished a lot. So now it is time to rest. You can begin to have a sense of how important it is to express your challenge in an artful manner. Realizing that the way in which you perceive, conceive, and express your challenge very much changes your sense of what is possible. Please, don’t make your challenge any bigger than it needs to be!

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

A Description of the Seishindo MindBody Coaching – Part 2

1. Introduction

In my last newsletter I began describing the principles I use when engaging in Seishindo MindBody Coaching. If you did not read the last newsletter you can go here to read it now.

What I want to make clear, is that anyone who is wanting to help another person change can use the principles I describe. A parent, a spouse, a manager, a friend. Indeed, most of the “change conversations” we engage in do not take place in a professional coaching setting.

Not being certain of the best way to describe a process that can take place in many different contexts, I use the terms “your counterpart”, and “the other person”. I would prefer to use something friendlier in nature, but I have yet to find the right term. Please do suggest something if you feel you might possibly inspire me!

Regards,
Charlie

2. Describing Seishindo MindBody Coaching- Part 2

I invite you now to consider, how the principles I present, can help you to become a more effective agent of change.

Imagine that you begin by believing your counterpart is a highly competent person, who is very definitely capable of living a fulfilling life. The fact that they are experiencing some difficulties in one or more areas of their life, does not take away from all that they are in the world. Be certain to not lose sight of their magnificence! Please consider or even take for granted, that the person you are wanting to help is at least as intelligent and capable as you are. That they already have available to them, all the resources necessary to live the life they truly desire.

Believing this, you might want to take some time to just be present with the other person. Observing them in a respectful, curious manner, breathing with them, appreciating them, and helping them to little by little find their way. Much like a shepherd who keeps his flock moving in the desired direction. If you begin like this you and your counterpart will likely feel at ease with each other, and it might just happen, that the both of you will find a place within yourselves where you feel confident that something generative will transpire.

One “truth” that will likely become more and more obvious to you over time is this– The more you focus on determining the exact details of the problem at hand, the more the hoped for solution will tend to become obscured.

You see, both science and the field of magic have proven over and over again, that we really can only attend to one thing at a time. Magicians use this knowledge to engage in  “mis-direction”. They get you to focus your attention away from the sleight of hand that is taking place, and thus you are baffled by how they make things disappear and reappear. In the everyday world, only being able to focus on one thing at a time is known as “a one track mind”.  When engaged in helping someone change, in most instances your counterpart will strive mightily to mis-direct you towards their problem. If you allow them to do this, neither one of you will have enough attention left over to also pay attention to the solutions that exist on the other side of the coin.

So when someone is struggling… Gently interrupt the way they access and present their problem, so that they don’t get overwhelmed and lose sight of what they dowant. While focusing on the problem will rarely help achieve a solution, the reverse of this is also true. People are not able to access and dwell on their problems, while actively engaged in discovering the positive actions they can take. The more someone dwells on a solution, the more the initial problem will recede into the background of their awareness. You can call this process “re-direction”.

If you pay close attention, you will likely find that the solution your counterpart is desiring, is hidden amongst the words they speak. You will begin to understand that your interaction with your counterpart is a kind of “hide and seek” game, and it is important to not proceed too quickly. In fact, the slower you go when engaging in a change process, the sooner you are likely to achieve the desired goal. So In the beginning, take your time and clear away all of the unnecessary and potentially confusing, words and gestures your counterpart is likely expressing. As you both slow down and simplify, you will both become better able to feel into and emotionally digest all that is being communicated.

Now would be a good time to take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for having gotten this far! You are actively engaged in creating a generative context for change, and now you can both rest easy for a while, as you let the world unfold around you.

Regards,
Charlie

A Description of the Seishindo MindBody Coaching – Part 1

1. Introduction

My recent teaching trip in New York City proved to be one of my most enjoyable and productive times ever! I want to especially thank Joel Elfman for all his hard work, and his great marketing and organizing. Working with Joel has proved to be a great blessing for me. I also want to thank Marje Palmieri for putting forth the energy and effort to launch a new round of my Performing with Passion series. Through her I had the opportunity to work with some truly gifted opera singers and other performers. Martha Eddy and I shared the stage for an enjoyable mini-workshop entitled “Movement and Flow- Essential Components of Change”. Martha and I have been friends and colleagues for many years, and it was great to work with her for the first time in a long time.

Last, but certainly no least, I had the pleasure of co-presenting with Melissa Tiers, a new friend and colleague who is a talented hypnotherapist and coach. Melissa and I explored “The nature of change” and along the way I learned quite a lot. Based on what I learned with Melissa I will now be presenting you with a series of articles describing Seishindo MindBody Coaching, and then I will cap the series off with an interview of Melissa that I recently read and found quite interesting.

I hope you will find the next few newsletters to be thought provoking and informative.

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

2. Describing Seishindo MindBody Coaching- Part 1

I am always thinking about how to best describe and teach Seishindo MindBody Coaching. You see, much of what I do when coaching has developed with a certain amount of serendipity, along with a good deal of both formal and informal learning. I started out with concepts from NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis, and then I added principles from Aikido, Noguchi Sei Tai, Gregory Bateson, and Self-relations Therapy. Along the way I developed a method that usually proves to be rather effective, and yet I more and more realize that what seems “obvious” or even “natural” to me, at times comes across as somewhat mysterious to those I teach. Actually what I realize now as I write this, is that my process of teaching others very much mirrors the process of my clients wanting to teach me the essence of their challenges. My clients start out describing what seems “obvious” and even “natural” to them, and yet along the way we both usually discover that I am not able to fully follow what they are saying. Having not lived the same life as my clients I find it necessary to ask them to clarify what to me seems like “fuzzy logic”. Thus I often say, “I hear what you are saying, but somehow I can’t quite understand what you are wanting to convey. Can you please somehow restate what you have just said, in a simpler fashion?” Less words leads to greater clarity.

The process I am going to follow in clarifying my coaching process with you now, is to “talk” to you as if I am your client, while striving to keep my explanation as clear as possible.

When engaging in Mindbody coaching, what I say and do is always somewhat different, because I strive to join with the flow of information being presented. I find it crucial to begin without a preconceived notion of what should take place, and instead I fully engage myself in a search for meaning. I look to first understand my client’s model of the world, while also checking in to ensure they are fully understanding what they present to me. You see, the points that seem fuzzy to me, often turn out to be fuzzy to them as well. Thus they might say, “I feel a lack of confidence.” And I might reply, “What exactly does a lack of confidence mean to you? How specifically does a lack of confidence feel to you?” Such questions lead to a search for answers that usually aren’t considered, as I look to foster a style of communication that makes sense both logically and emotionally.

I find the best way to achieve clear, simple communication is to begin by becoming fully present in the moment. I call this process, achieving a “still pond” experience. When a pond of water is buffeted by the wind, we can’t clearly notice the ripples created by each stone we toss in the pond. When a client’s description of their circumstances is buffeted by their emotions, it is difficult to understand exactly what they are wanting to convey.

The task of calming the waters begins by calming the body. Soon we become aware of how a relaxed balanced body and ample amounts of oxygen, leads to a simpler more direct description of the changes desired. I engage in this calming processwith my clients. We slow down our breathing, and breathe a bit more fully than usual, as we also give some of our attention to everything we are seeing, hearing, and feeling. The belief being, that the information that leads to solutions, is being communicated everywhere in and around us, and not just in our heads. When you straighten and align your posture, and breathe more fully, you calm your body. When you calm your body you also wind up calming your thinking mind. When you calm your thinking mind you “throw less stones in the pond” and thus there is less verbal information to process. When you say less, you can better notice the effect of each stone, each idea, each belief that you express.

Reaching this point in my description I become aware of the next important concept in MindBody Coaching – Not trying to accomplish “too much” in any one session. Taking part in coaching is similar to eating a tasty meal. No matter how good the food, the more you eat in one sitting, the less you will actually taste what you consume! So I will stop here for the time being, rather than feeding you too much at one time. Let’s consider today’s newsletter to be “one session”. Please take the time to mull over and digest what I have written.

I’d love to hear what you think and feel, about what I have written so far!

We will continue with this discovery process in my next newsletter, so please stay tuned for more.

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

You are an Orchestra

1. Introduction

I am having a wonderful time here in NYC, working with colleagues new and old, and meeting some members of the Seishindo community for the first time. I feel very blessed that my work offers me so much satisfaction and fulfillment.

When meeting folks for the first time, they often have a lot of curiosity, and thus a lot of questions. Which is great! I have written this piece today, as another way of helping people understand what Seishindo is about.

I would love to hear your feedback, so please drop me a line at charlie@seishindo.org

Regards,
Charlie

2. You are an Orchestra

Rhythm, Flow, and Syncopation
Our brainwaves, heartbeat, enteric nervous system, craniosacral system, breath, blink rate, and swallow rate, are all metronomes that beat at different speeds and rhythms, creating a musical pattern similar to the interaction of various percussion instruments in an orchestra.

It is the rhythm, flow, and syncopation of our various body systems that plays a crucial role in determining how we think and feel.

Music, as compared to noise
When our various body systems meld together in collaborative expression the overall self is supported and strengthened, and a beautiful music is played. When our body systems are at odds with each other, the flow of our systemic energy is constrained and the rhythm and music of the system breaks down into noise.

What makes for life supportive music?
Scientific research tells us it is the pace and rhythm of neural activity, that determines information flow. Change the rhythm and pace of neural activity and you change the quality and quantity of information that flows throughout your system. Change the rhythm and flow of neural activity and you change the music your system plays.

Also crucial to the making of music is the strength or “volume” of each individual body system. For instance- A big booming heartbeat at 60 beats per minute, will effect the system much differently than a weak heartbeat that is also 60 beats per minute.

Tuning and adaptation
Your system as a whole is always adapting to itself. If one of the metronomes of your system alters its beat, your body’s other metronomes adapt to this change and start to match it. This is similar to when a drummer speeds up or slows down and the rest of the jazz quartet follows suit.

When we affect change in the pace and rhythm of any one of our body systems, over time we change the organization and rhythm of our entire self. For instance- Breathe in a fast paced shallow manner, and before long your entire system will respond. Shallow breathing leads to less oxygen entering your system, and more carbon dioxide remaining in your system, and thus you will soon feel anxious, or even stressed out.

When you change the overall pace and rhythm your system is playing at, you will change the way you think and feel. Self-communication is a recursive loop.

The music you play, leads to your emotional state
When listening to music, isn’t it obvious that some music tends to soothe you, while other music excites you and leads you to want to get up and dance?

Adding lyrics to your music
Guess, what? The lyrics you add to your music also have a profound effect on how you feel.

In Seishindo we find that when people describe feeling unable to achieve peace of mind, the way they describe their circumstances usually leads them to become further upset. If you create some beautiful sounding music, and then add depressive self-defeating lyrics, you will only wind up feeling horrible when your song is done. Don’t rush through your lyrics. Be certain to craft them carefully.

So, what to do?
In Seishindo, while respectfully listening to all our clients have to say, we give our primary attention to the full range of their musical performance. By helping our clients create life affirming music and lyrics, we find they become much better able to effect the life changes they truly desire.

As I often say, it is my strong belief that you already possess all the resources necessary, to live the life you truly desire!

Warmly,
Charlie

Suffering and happiness

1. Introduction

Today, I would like to introduce you to a new friend of Seishindo, her name is Melissa Tiers. Melissa is a talented hypnotist and coach whose work nicely dovetails with mine.

Melissa and I will be doing an evening presentation in NYC on April 27, entitled “Exploring the nature of change”. 

I would also like to introduce you to my long time friend and colleague, Dr. Martha Eddy. Martha has an amazing background in many different somatic modalities and Martha and I will be doing a presentation in NYC on April 28, entitled “Movement & Flow – Integral Components of Change”.

And last but not least, I would like to again remind you about the two day workshop I am doing in NYC on May 5, 6, Seishindo Mind Body Coaching”.

I am looking forward to seeing some of you in New York!

Regards,
Charlie

2. Suffering and happiness

A paradox is a kind of puzzle or riddle. A paradox is a thought, belief, or statement that appears to be contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a truth.

From time to time we all get caught up in the paradoxical differences between “What we think and what we feel”, or “What we think is best and what we actually do.”

You’ve come face to face with this paradox if you have ever said to yourself, “I know I really should be doing X (fill in the beneficial behavior of your choice), but for some reason I just can’t get myself to do so.”

Why is it that your thinking and your doing; your thinking and your feeling, sometimes seem to contradict each other? What is this contradiction about?

I ask these questions now because I believe the answers you give can help you suffer less and be happier overall.

It seems to me that in the course of living our lives most of us lose touch with what will truly bring us happiness. We come to think that our happiness depends on other people, our accomplishments, and the wealth and power we obtain. We get a good job, marry a nice person, and perhaps even buy a new house, but often, something is still missing, and something or other feels “off”.

I believe this is so because we have yet to understand what the conditions are that lead to our truly feeling fulfilled. Indeed, it’s often our current concept of happiness that winds up preventing us from being happy!

Borrowing from the concepts of Buddhism I offer you the following thoughts to ponder:

1. Suffering is inevitable.
There’s no way around it. From time to time we all suffer.

2. Suffering has causes.
The more you can understand and take responsibility for how it is you create your suffering the more you’ll realize you are not a victim of life.

3. The more you try and avoid suffering, the more you will suffer.
A plain and simple truth!
When suffering knocks on your door, invite it in for a cup of tea. Like any other guest, after being courteous, you should kindly say that you need to attend to other matters.

4. Happiness is indeed possible, and perhaps even inevitable.
It might not always be “easy” to be happy, but happiness is always a possibility nonetheless. And no matter what, you will not be happy all the time. Neither will anyone else!

5. Happiness is one of many paths you can choose.
You discover and travel on your path towards happiness, every time you are mindful of your experience and thankful for what you do have.

6. The path of happiness is rarely a straight line.
You will invariably find that you sometimes need to follow the path life offers you in a given moment. Regardless of whether or not this path leads you straight ahead.

7. No matter how intelligent you might be, your intellect is not enough to help you understand who you are and what you truly need.
The wisdom of your body, your emotional self, and your heart, also need to be listened to and respected.

8. Nothing stays the same.
Suffering and happiness are both ephemeral. Both will come and go many times over the course of your life.

9. The reason why you’re suffering has little to do with the circumstances of your life, and everything to do with your beliefs.
The longer you believe your emotional state is due to the current circumstances of your life, the more elusive you’ll find happiness to be.

10. Cultivating happiness leads to the discovery of who you truly are.
Self-discovery and peace of mind go hand in hand.

11. The better you understand who you truly are, the more you’ll feel at home in the universe.

12. Everything is just as it should be. Nothing more, and nothing less.

I wish you all the best, in your pursuit of happiness. Many wonderful experiences await you, and from time to time, a bit of suffering as well!

Regards,
Charlie

Golden Rules of Writing- Part 4

1. Introduction

This is the last of four articles on my “Golden Rules of Writing”.

Thanks so much to those of you who have written to tell me about your experience with writing. Hearing from the members of the community always makes me happy!

I will be coming to NYC in a month’s time to teach a coaching workshop, and I will also do an evening presentation with my new found friend and colleague Melissa Tiers. I will send a separate announcement in the next day or two to let you know more. I look forward to meeting some of you for the first time!

Spring is finally in the air here in Tokyo, and it is wonderful to once again see the cherry blossoms bursting forth! I hope you will find the same sense of renewal within yourself.

In community,
Charlie

2. Golden rules of writing- Part 4

The reader reacts to you, more so than to the words you write.
The reader will “read between the lines” and develop a feeling for you, and an opinion about your model of the world. Whatever they wind up intuiting, your written words will not convince them differently.

Consider and meditate on, “where” your words come from.
Are you writing mainly from your heart or from your intellect? No matter how “expert” or insightful your writing might be, people will respond the most when you write from your heart.

Consider what your writing says about you. When it’s all said and done, you are always only writing about your model of the world. Don’t get confused into thinking you are writing about “the truth”.

Hopefully people will have great interest in reading what you write, but the greatest interest they will have is in reading your heart.
Your heart needs to be open and inviting. The more you hold back, the more the reader will hold back. Nothing is more inviting to people than when you express your vulnerability.

Be as transparent as possible and trust in the ability of the reader to read your heart.
The more transparent you become, the more your true thoughts, feelings, and motives will be perceived by the reader. When you are transparent light will pass through your writing, illuminating the place your words are birthed from. In this regard, simple, humble, and unadorned is best. And it is almost always good to show a sense of humor as well!

More so than writing about yourself, write to the reader.
In a real world conversation, if you only talk about yourself, soon people will wonder if you have any interest in their feelings. Most people will want to feel that you care about them, and they will shut down if you only seem interested in yourself. The same is true when writing.

As much as possible, do away with “I, me, my” and show an interest in the reader.

Give the reader something they will want to hold onto
If you don’t give the reader something life affirming to hold onto, they will tend to withdraw from you and what you write.

You don’t have to always be happy and upbeat. You can say something sad or disturbed, as long as you give the reader a sense of a potential positive outcome. Your reader will want to believe that “something good can come from all this”. (And yes, of course there have been numerous successful novels and movies that have ended on a very dark note.)

When writing about others, the more you erase your voice, the closer the reader will feel towards the people you write about.
This is particularly true when writing stories that have characters. Leave the reader alone with the characters, so they feel like they are taking part in an intimate conversation. Rather than talking for your characters, have your characters talk directly to the reader.

The writer should introduce the reader to the story and the characters and then withdraw, so the reader can interact with the characters without feeling like they are being watched.

Describe in detail what you are wanting to express, rather than “naming” it.
Instead of saying “I was frightened.” Describe your fear in detail. “My heart was racing, and I could barely breathe, as I found myself unable to speak.”

Make sure your writing has a core message, without explaining to the reader what that message is.
Read through what you have written to be sure your writing has a clear message. Then, allow for the reader to decide what that message is.

Writing that is well received usually has some level of suspense or surprise
Writing should have some degree of suspense, much in the same way as a good joke. The reader should not be able to discern the key line/action, until it is delivered.

Stay open to the possibility of surprising yourself as well!

90% of the task of writing is editing and cleaning up what is before you on the page.
It is hard to overstate the importance of keeping this in mind. Especially if you tend to not actually write, but instead keep running over in your mind what you will write once you are clear.

No matter how incomplete, put your thoughts down “on paper” and then work from there. If you do this “writer’s block” will not be a problem.

If possible, show your work to other writers whom you admire and ask for their honest feedback.
This is crucial. Why? Because you will be “too close” to your writing to know what should be different.

In this regard, if you want to publish what you write, a good editor is essential.
••••

Well that’s it! In regard to my thoughts on writing I have said it all for now. I hope this series has given you some definite value.

Golden Rules of Writing- Part 3

1. Introduction

I have been receiving some wonderful feedback from a number of you in regard to this series on writing. Knowing that someone is there actively reading, brings me great joy. I am waiting to hear from more of you, so don’t be bashful!

Here is some of what has been sent to me. (Shared with permission.)

“Since so much of what we feel goes unspoken,
All the more reason to write our feelings down in some form or fashion.

Letter, verse, story,
Even though we might call it “fiction.”
There is no fiction really.
Fiction is a genre employed by those who need to feel and share their pain anonymously.”
•••

“I tend to say too much about what I feel,
And when I am dead and gone, there won’t be much left unsaid.

You will know where you stood with me, and not,
Rather than being left with a mystery.

I would rather the tears be mine now,
Rather than yours in whatever comes later on.
I want my Heaven now, rather than my Hell in the hereafter.”
•••

“I’ve been needing to have an important conversation with my partner, for quite some time now. I was avoiding the conversation because I was afraid of the results. Well … I am very happy to report that I decided to follow the principles of your “Golden Rules” and the conversation turned out really well. Thanks so much!”
•••

Once again, if you have interest in my upcoming teleseries on writing please email me and let me know. I will place you on a special mailing list.
Write to me at charlie@seishindo.org

2. Golden rules of writing- Part 3

Writing is like a hide and seek game. The reader will enjoy searching to find you.
Behind a wall or in the woods … And amongst your sentences.

Don’t be too quick to show or express your deepest feelings. Do so over time, as you develop a relationship with the reader.

The respect or lack thereof, you have towards your subject matter, will be transferred by the reader to you.
The more you show respect for the subject of your writing, the closer your reader will feel towards you. If you express a negative or cynical perspective, in many instances, the reader will tend to distance themselves from you. If the reader feels you are judging others, they will tend to feel that you would also judge them.

You can express your keen judgment, without needing to be judgmental.

One of your main jobs as a writer, is to help the reader feel welcomed.
The respect you show to the reader leads to the respect they will feel towards you, and what you write.

If you talk down to the reader, lecture them, or show disrespect in any way, the reader will tend to distance themselves from you.

If you are writing from the point of view of an expert, come across as a friendly expert open to opposing points of view.

When you start a story or article by saying, “This writing is about X and Y, you limit the reader’s experience, and creativity.
If you writing is well conceived, you will not have to tell the reader what you are writing about. Also, you need to keep in mind that the reader might draw rather different conclusions from your writing, than you are expecting. It is best to allow for multiple interpretations of what you write.

Make the reader an active participant in what you write, by leaving your writing ever so much incomplete.
To some extent, allow for the reader to complete your piece on their own. Rather than saying “and everyone lived happily ever after”, leave your ending open to more than one resolution. When you leave the reader to complete the story on their own, they will feel like an active participant in what you write. The reader will complete what you write by drawing on their own hopes and dreams.

Your writing needs to convey a sensibility that is common to the feelings and experience of the reader.
Especially when writing a deeply personal piece, you need to be certain to convey a message the reader will have some experience of.

Writers who are well received know how to listen to their readers.
As a writer, you need to have the ability to sense what your readers will think and feel upon reading what you have written. You need to have a sense of how the reader will respond to what you write.

Impactful writing requires the ability to be patient and listen to the promptings of your heart.
Be still, listen, and feel. Whatever you are wanting to express is already rising up within you. Powerful writing comes much more from your heart, than from your intellect.

Be still and have the discipline to wait … otherwise you will start too soon, and you writing will lack clarity.

When you sit quietly and allow your emotions to move, this movement will eventually lead to words.

The more you write, the more you will learn … about yourself, your subject matter, and life.
Stay open to this learning. Don’t try and push what you think you want to say. You and the reader both need to digest what you write. Slower is better. Good writing requires the time and opportunity to properly digest the emotional impact of what you express.

Golden Rules of Writing– Part 2

1. Introduction

Today continues on from where I left off in my last newsletter.

You will benefit both personally and professionally by improving your writing skills. The more clear, succinct, and persuasive you are when communicating, the more you empower yourself to succeed and build better relationships. High quality written communication, leads to high quality verbal communication.

Since you are reading this now, you are likely drawn to my style of writing. What I can tell you is– Becoming a better writer has required a good deal of rewarding effort on my part over the last eight years. A significant aspect of my development has been faithfully turning out a newsletter every two weeks. Nothing improves one’s writing, more than writing!

Another important reason my writing has improved, is because I took the time to learn from a number of accomplished writers. What I learned from others is what I have distilled for you here in the “Golden Rules”.

Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story.
Janet Litherland

2. Golden Rules of Writing- Part 2

Value the beauty of simplicity
In my book, there is a chapter devoted to the Japanese concept of “Mushin”.

Mushin is a peak performance state in which you discard all extraneous action and thought. In this state you are economical, ecological, and graceful, and you seek to follow the path of least resistance and optimal effect.

So as you polish a piece you are working on, make sure you have discarded all extraneous words, and thoughts.

When speaking, most everyone has the habit of saying something like “Umm” or “Uhh” as they take a moment to think about what they will say next.
When listening to a recording of a talk, it can sometimes be surprising and even disconcerting to hear how many times such syllables are spoken.

You will want to be certain to not show these same lapses in clarity with a finished piece of your writing. Your writing needs to be economical, ecological, and graceful.

Record what you have written, and see how it sounds
Depending on the length of what you are writing, recording and then listening to what you have written is one of the very best ways to better understand and improve your writing.

If you do record your writing, listen for the vocal nuances and emphasis you use. Then consider whether or not your reader will understand the full meaning of your writing when they have only your written words in front of them.

The reader reads not only your words, but your heart as well.
You cannot hide your true feelings from the reader. The reader will read between the lines and sense your feelings and beliefs. Actually, this can be one of the most rewarding aspects of writing!

Read, listen to, and feel what you have written. If your words say one thing, and your heart another, the reader will be confused.

False courage
There is a Country Western song out there somewhere that talks about “Having another shot of false courage, before doin’ what needed done’”

I have noticed from time to time that some people who are rather meek in person, get confrontational when writing. Actually, this can be commonly seen in many chat groups on the internet.

If you have a tendency to say things when writing that you would not say in person, make sure you are truly coming from your heart and not expressing frustrations created in other contexts.

Because you are likely to be in a room by yourself when writing, this can be a great opportunity to challenge yourself to be more emotionally honest.

Tenderness, fierceness, and playfulness
As my friend and mentor Stephen Gilligan says– A fulfilling life requires that we have the capacity to express a range of different emotions. He suggests that we consider our ability to communicate tenderness, fierceness, and playfulness. But not necessarily all in one communication!

In this regard it is important to not confuse “fierceness” with “anger”. For instance, I can fiercely defend the reputation of a friend, without getting angry about what others have said.

Writing can be an excellent way to expand the range of your emotional expression. Use your writing to experiment with communicating an emotion you currently do not feel adept at expressing. Do you have trouble expressing tenderness? Then by all means create a piece that expresses your tenderness. No need to make such a piece public, so you will not have to worry about what others might say.

Help the reader warm up to you, by showing your vulnerability.
The reader will be touched when you show your vulnerability.
The opposite of this is also true–The reader will tend to feel distant and removed from you if you come across as aloof or invincible. The closer the reader feels towards you, the closer they will feel to your writing.

Expressing or showing one’s vulnerability takes courage. The more you show your vulnerability in a balanced manner, the less vulnerable you will become. It is quite a lovely paradox!

Humble confidence
Express a humble confidence in regard to what you write, all the while keeping in mind that there is also much that you do not fully understand.

There is an important difference between knowing your subject matter well, and being a know-it-all!

•••
That’s it for today! I hope you find value in what I have written. I will continue this thread in my upcoming newsletters, and I very much look forward to your feedback.

Golden Rules of Writing- Part 1

1. Introduction

Over the years when teaching workshops, people have often commented that they liked the stories I tell, and that my stories offered them important learning. About eight years ago, my friend and colleague Molly Gordon suggested it would be a great idea if I wrote up my stories in a newsletter. And thus the Seishindo newsletter was born! Recently, as you know, I gathered all my stories about my life in Japan and created my book, Pure Heart Simple Mind- Wisdom stories from a life in Japan.

Since the book has been out, a number of people have said they would like to learn about my process of writing. Because of the interest shown, I am going to write a series of newsletters about my writing process. In the coming months I will also teach a teleseries on writing.

Needless to say, writing is a form of communication.

What might be a bit surprising to you, is that improving your writing skills can have a positive affect on your verbal communication style and your relationships with others. I hope that as you read through these rules, the reasons why this is so will become evident.

So, even though this article talks about “writing” it is actually talking about a lot more than “just” writing. Because of this, I think this material can serve everyone in the Seishindo community.

Have a read, and let me know what you think!

Here are a few suggestions as you proceed-
If you would like, at some point you can run through these rules while doing some editing in your head.

The word “writing” can be changed in your mind, to “communicating”
The word “reader” can become “partner”, or “spouse” or “audience” etc.
The term “writer” can be changed to “you”, or “leader”, or “keynote speaker”, etc.

2. Golden rules of writing

Be clear about what you are wanting to convey
What is the main point you want to make? It is important that your message comes across in a clear coherent manner.

You need to be certain about your message before you begin. Or at the very least, you need to be certain about the clarity of your message, by the time your piece is nearing completion.

Brevity is to be highly valued.
Write your ideas in as few words as possible while maintaining a friendly atmosphere. Be relentless in cutting out every unnecessary word. “Less equals more!”

Also keep in mind that two short sentences are usually better than one long sentence. People tend to get lost in long sentences, and they might not find their way back to the page.

Your words need to flow.
Speak the words that you write, to help you hear and feel the flow of your writing. Your words need to flow with a rhythm similar to music. Complicated groupings of words will create a verbal traffic jam, that stops the music. Do away with any unnecessary “notes”, and the space in between your words will “say” a lot.

Create a scene that the reader can hold in their mind’s eye, and a logical flow of events and actions
It is important that the reader can envision what you are writing about. If not they will become uncertain and confused.

Make sure that the flow of action and events is logical. Be certain to not jump around from point to point, or from past to present.

Keep in mind that the reader will have little to no idea about your internal world, and the events that have taken place in your life.
You need to tell the reader all the important details and background in the course of your writing. Don’t start out in the middle of a story, unless this is part of your unique writing style.

Introduce yourself through your writing, rather than writing an introduction about yourself.

If you are writing about people, breathe life into your subjects and give them a voice.
It is important to not speak “for” your subjects, or about them. Let your subjects speak for themselves.

Make sure your writing is not all about you.
Your theme needs to be universal in some important way, and your theme needs to talk to the heart of the reader. You readers will not be interested in reading about you, unless reading about you, helps them to understand themselves.

The more personal your writing, the more universal it needs to be.

Be certain to not indulge yourself in your suffering.
People don’t want to read a sad story about a sad person, they want to read about someone who has somehow triumphed, somehow persevered.

In most instances your writing should carry at least a hint of “a life that works, a life that has a future”. It usually is not a good idea to leave your readers distraught or mired in your problems.

Always remember that your opinion and “the truth” are not the same.
If you are writing about your opinions, you need to make sure that you leave room for other interpretations. Be certain to not try and tell people how they should feel about a certain story or issue.

Speak from your heart, in every day language.
Don’t try and rhyme words just because you are writing “poetry”.

By all means don’t use flowery language unless it really fits, and that is infrequently.

Keep it simple and straightforward, and stay away from complex allegories, metaphors etc.

When you have the choice of using a “big” word or a “small” word, use a “small” word.
You don’t want to try and impress people with your vast vocabulary, and you don’t want them to have to constantly look in their dictionary. Every time the reader needs to look in a dictionary, it is like stopping a movie you are watching at home, while you go and get a snack. You break the flow of the action.

The more your writing wanders, the more the reader’s mind will wander.
In most instances you should only make one main point, and not wander from that point.
There can of course be exceptions, but in most instances you will want to leave the reader with one main point to think about, rather than several.

So, in writing this first article, what is my main point?

“Keep it simple, while maintaining an emotional connection to both your content and your reader.”

••••

That’s it for today!
I hope you enjoy what you read, and that I have created some nutritious food for thought.

I will continue this conversation in my next newsletter.

The Path of your Life

1. Introduction

Welcome to our new subscribers. I hope you will find value in what I write.

My new book got its first in-depth review today. Wonderful how this gentleman really “got” the message I was wanting to get across!

Click on this link if you would like to read the review.
http://markmccluretoday.com/book-review-pure-heart-simple-mind-by-charlie-badenhop

I would be very pleased if you pass along information about my book to others!

A number of people have written to me saying they would like to pursue their dream of writing. If you have interest in taking a series of teleclasses that can teach you how to be a better writer, please send me an email, and I will place you on a private list. If enough people show interest, I would love to lead a series of classes on writing. If writing is something you have a passion for and you would like to improve your current skills, send me an email at: charlie@seishindo.org,

All the best,
Charlie

2. The Path of your life

For me it is important to consider what my path in life is. By this I mean I believe it’s important to think about where it is I am going, and what my life will be like once I get there.

If you would like to consider the same for yourself, here are eight questions that can help you arrive at a meaningful answer:

1. “What/Where are you moving towards?”
Often, we spend a good deal of time and energy trying to avoid particular events, relationships, and outcomes we do not want. But in actuality, I believe we are always moving towards a particular outcome, whether we realize it or not. It is important to get a clear sense of where you are going.

2. “How would you describe yourself right now?”
Another way to say this is, “What do I perceive my attributes to be?

What is important here is that you accentuate your positive attributes (your “gifts”), while being gentle in describing whatever you might perceive as negative attributes. In Seishindo we like to say, “Every strength has a weakness, and every weakness has a strength.”

3 “How would you describe the kind of person you are wanting to become?”
Another way to ask this question is, “What are the positive attributes of the person you are wanting to become?”

4. “Based on your answer to the last question, what positive attributes will you need to add to your current repertoire to achieve your goals?”

5. “What will you need to do to cultivate the positive attributes that you are not currently manifesting?”
In other words, what will you need to start doing differently?

6. “What resources do you have access to that can help you achieve your goal?
Consider friends, colleagues, family, courses you could take, books you could read, etc.

Often times we try to achieve a goal on our own, and we ignore or simply don’t pay attention to the many resources we could draw on. In Seishindo we like to say, “You already possess all the resources necessary, to live the life you long for.”

7. “What will your plan be, for actively walking your path?”

8. “What will your first step be?”
So often people talk about a plan, but never wind up taking a first step. Beginning on your path is crucial. The next important point is making sure you continue!

That’s it!
Give some genuine thought to the above eight questions, and you will receive great benefit.
••••

In Seishindo, we believe it is important to appreciate all that we are, and develop a dream for the future based on ideals that are positively oriented and life affirming. Rather than attempting to fix what we often (usually incorrectly) perceive as our problems, we believe it is much more important to focus on cultivating your solutions.

Emotional and physical well-being, sensitivity to the needs of self and others, compassion, a good “partner” in relationships, and self-trust– These are some of the core attributes/capacities we look to cultivate in Seishindo.
The more you gently focus your attention on these attributes, the less need you will have to try and “fix” what you perceive to be wrong with yourself and others.
Focusing on cultivating positive attributes is a generative way to release yourself from the grip of fear. As you have likely already noticed, fear is an emotion that can easily overwhelm you in the fast paced world most of us live in.

Centered, calm yet active, and doing neither too much or too little, is a great way to approach life.

The more often you embody such a way of being, the more you will find yourself cultivating good health, emotional stability, and the ability to live with grace and ease.
You will find yourself following a path of least resistance and optimal effect.

Through your actions and your stillness,
Through your day to day involvement in life,
You can come to experience the truth of who you are,
As you discover a place of inner stillness, at the core of your being.

When you discover this truth,
As you discover this truth,
Everything in and around you, will begin to be experienced as being,
“Just as it should be, just as it is”.

Embracing life’s many problems

1. Introduction

It’s been three weeks since my book was released, and I am so pleased by the positive feedback that has been streaming in! If I haven’t replied to your email yet, I will, as soon as I catch up.

For those of you who have yet to have a look, you can check out the interior of the book by going here:
Pure Heart Simple Mind- Wisdom stories from a life in Japan
http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Simple-Mind–Wisdom-stories/dp/098482300X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325064187&sr=1-1

I would be very pleased if you pass along information about the book to others! The more people who find out about the principles of Seishindo, the better able I become at serving the Seishindo community.

All the best,
Charlie

2. Embracing life’s many problems

You are a relationship.
And when you’re wanting to understand how this relationship could be more fulfilling,
Ask yourself–“What is the nature of the conversation that goes on between the various parts of myself?”

Do you talk to yourself as a friend and ally,
or do you sometimes show disrespect and disdain?

There is a presence within you that is truly powerful, and also rather unruly at times.
Like the energy of a young rambunctious child.
Welcome this presence into your life,
rather than trying to discipline or defeat it, and you will find it has much to offer you.

One of the keys to a happy life, and a happy relationship,
Is the ability to entertain two opposing ideas at the same time,
Without turning the news of difference into a problem.

This requires an open heart and mind, and often, a fairly large dollop of high quality negotiation skills.

It is your lack of confidence regarding a potential outcome,
That leads to your sense of there being a problem.
When you feel up to the task,
Your problem will be transformed into a challenge you enjoy solving.

Problems can stretch and expand the boundaries of what you currently feel capable of,
And thus problems can help you achieve a more positive self-image.
The opposite of course is also true.

It’s a loss, a surprising turn of events, a death, the unexpected …
that makes it necessary for you to begin yet another journey.
Don’t try and stay home.
Don’t try and hide.
The part of you that realizes the need for change is calling out your name,
imploring you to take action.
Attempting to maintain the status quo is no longer a viable option.

If you stuff cotton in your ears,
The voice within you will only get louder and more insistent.

Be thankful for this,
Without this voice, conditions would only get worse.

Once you define your situation as a “problem”,
You become a moth,
And your problem becomes the flame.

There is no need to protect yourself from the unexpected.
Indeed there is a part of you that realizes the need for something to be different.
Take the chain off your door.
Welcome your guest, and embrace the paradox!

The unexpected offers you the opportunity to look deeper,
And discover what you truly want and need.

The convergence point of two seemingly opposing forces,
Is the place where the meaning of your experience is created.
Your belief about your capabilities determines how you act and react.
And not the experience in and of itself.

Are you open to learning something new?
Or are you only wanting to repeat the same lessons you
excelled at in the past?

Failure is not a declaration of your lack of ability.
The only way you can truly fail, is by giving up.
Today’s failure is a sign that you have yet to get things right.
Today’s failure is alerting you to the need for further course corrections.
Today’s failure can lead to tomorrow’s success.

Embracing your problems doesn’t mean you will have
less challenges in the future.
It only means you won’t be discouraged each time you meet up
with the unexpected.
Indeed, no matter how far you progress, you will still have many of
the same challenges you had in the past,
It’s just that you won’t take them so personally.

If your current problem had a positive meaning, what would it be?

Who were you before your problem showed up?

Who will you be once your problem is solved?

Slowing down, and becoming more present

1. Introduction

My best wishes to everyone for the coming year.

I am feeling really happy to have finally gotten my first book out into the world, and I want to thank those of you who have already gotten a copy and sent me kind words of encouragement.

I think all of the Amazon stores worldwide are now currently carrying the book. In some locations the book is listed as out of stock, but that is not the case. The U.S. site and the Canadian site already have the book up with the opportunity to “Look inside the book” so if you have yet to order one, please do stop by and have a look.
http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Simple-Mind–Wisdom-stories/dp/098482300X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325064187&sr=1-1

We have a lot planned here at Seishindo, and we are looking forward to a fulfilling year. I hope the same is true for you!

All the best,
Charlie

2. Slowing down, and becoming more present

At the end of each year, Japan comes to a standstill as almost everyone takes at least five days off starting on Dec. 30th. My favorite thing to do during this time of year, is “nothing”.

I clean up some of the mess laying around from last year, wash the windows, clean the floors, and sit quietly in a room, contemplating my “self”, my life and relationships, and my emotional state.

By releasing myself from my usual schedule I get the opportunity to experience what I think and feel when the demands on my life have abated. This is what I call a “still pond” state.

If you toss a small stone into a pond buffeted by the wind, it is difficult to discern the effect of the stone on the water. If you toss a similar small stone into a still pond, you can easily notice the ripples that result.

When I slow down and become present, I am much better able to notice the ripples in my system. Sometimes working in harmony, sometimes working in disharmony.

In my practice, one thing I often do is take a quote that interests me, and repeat it to myself numerous times over the course of ten to twenty minutes.

Depending on how well I know the quote or how complex the quote is, I either read it to myself, or simply repeat it to myself. Sometimes with my eyes open, sometimes with my eyes closed.

My process is this-
I take a deep breath, and speak the quote on my exhale. Then, on my inhale I do my best to let all my thoughts pass me by. Then I repeat the quote again on my next exhale. Over and over again. I speak the quote in a low voice rather than simply repeating it internally, because speaking the quote out loud tends to keep me much more involved in the process.

Here are the quotes I will be working with over the next few days. Hopefully they will prove useful to you as well.
(I have made minor yet important edits to these quotes. Sometimes I adjusted the quotes to make them sound better in my ear, and perhaps more importantly, I changed the quotes so they are spoken/read in the “first person”. Thus, the wording of these quotes will appear differently if you search for their origin on the internet.)

“My self is a circle, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”

Carl Jung

“I am the center of the universe. But the universe is so infinitely large, and ‘I’ so infinitely small, that you too are the center of the universe.”
Koichi Tohei

“There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now.”

Eugene O’Neill

“Whether I believe I can, or I can’t, in either case I will tend to prove myself correct.”
Henry Ford

“Failure is simply the opportunity for me to begin over again, this time more intelligently.”
Henry Ford

“Life is a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.”
Eugene O’Neill

“No matter how carefully I look, it is hard to see anyone but myself. No matter how carefully I look, it is hard to see anything but my own point of view.”
Charlie B.

“Believing, preparing, beginning, adjusting, and continuing. These are the five most important steps in fulfilling my dreams.”

Charlie B.

Wishing you all the best for the coming year!
Please stay connected to the Seishindo community, and please also continue to cultivate a deeper connection to yourself.

In community,
Charlie

Courage in the face of perceived failure

1. Introduction

I had a wonderful time teaching in New York City, and as always I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of you through private sessions while I was in town. I want to take this opportunity to thank Joel Elfman and Anson Mau for sponsoring and managing the workshop, and I also want to thank my long time friend Stephen Roger for his support of my work.

As I mentioned last time out, my forthcoming book is at the printers. We are trying to create the possibility to have it for sale by Christmas. Not sure yet, so stay tuned!

Today’s story involves work that was done at one of my previous workshops. It is common for one or two people a day, to come up and have me work with them individually in front of the group. The results of these sessions are often beautiful to behold.

In sharing this encounter, I want to let you know that- I have changed the name of the person I worked with in order to preserve her privacy, and I have also asked her permission to share her story. She was very happy to say “Yes” as she hopes that others in the Seishindo community might learn from her experience.

Charlie

2. Courage in the face of perceived failure

The fear of failure is an emotion that knocks on everyone’s door at one time or another …

Here is what “Karen” had to say about failure, when I worked with her in the front of the room at a recent workshop.

Karen and I start out as I often do, talking about various topics, as we wait for the right thread of conversation to emerge.

I have no idea what the right thread of conversation will be, but I’m confident we will find it, if we engage each other with open hearts and minds.

At some point Karen states she’s been doing a lot of meaningless work for quite some time. She says she’s been doing the work no one else in her company wanted to do. As a result of this, she says she’s lost touch with herself and her dreams.

In a heavy, dark voice she says,
“Fifty two years old, and look at me, I’m a failure!
“A broken marriage, a broken career, and nothing to show for all my suffering.”

Her words touch me deeply, and I take a deep breath to help center myself.
Then I thank her for having the courage to share such a powerful message.

“Failure or no failure,” I say, “it’s very special to be with someone who is able and willing to expose and express their pain. Standing up to one’s perceived failures, is an act of great courage.”

I take another deep breath and look around the room some, wanting everyone to know it’s OK to gently respond if they care to.

I look back at Karen and begin to tell her about some of my own failures.
I don’t have to reach too far, to recall a number of disappointments and disillusionments.

Little by little, spontaneously and honestly, most everyone in the room shares some of their failures as well.

Getting fired … A broken marriage … A broken friendship … Trouble with one’s children …
Rather quickly the list grows long, and it soon becomes apparent that no one in the room has been “only successful”.

At some point I ask the group if anyone would be willing to share their definition of “failure”.

There is silence …
And then Karen, all of a sudden looking inspired, says, “Failure is when you try to make believe you are someone other than who you are.

“Failure is when you come to believe there aren’t any viable alternatives in life, to the way you’ve been living.

“Failure is when you don’t share your experience with others because you’re convinced it’s only you who is suffering. That somehow all the madness has occurred because something is wrong with you.

“Failure is feeling you are incapable of finding satisfaction and love.”

Karen takes a deep breath, looks around, and adjusts her posture, before finally saying, “Failure is sitting slumped over as I tend to do, and feeling like you are powerless.”

Tears begin to ebb down Karen’s face, and the entire group is touched by her courage and pain.

People transition from listening with their ears, to ‘someone else’s’ experience,
To feeling with their hearts, how Karen’s words and sorrow are shared by all of us.

Such is the power of a supportive, caring community.
The courageous sharing of any one group member, can lead to the healing of all who are present.

“I” becomes “We”,
And it is this “we-dentity” that gives us the courage to stand up and face our greatest fears, and seeming shortcomings.

At such times, “failure” is transformed into a triumph of human spirit.

Everyday mind and time

Everyday mind and your concept of time

“How unstable was your thinking mind?” Sensei asked, after we had just spent an hour doing a specific breathing exercise. “I’m guessing that in the last hour most of you were very busy thinking, even though you’re meant to sit quietly when doing this exercise.” When I heard him say this I wasn’t sure whether to smile or frown, because he was certainly describing me!

“Such is your everyday mind.” Sensei continued. “You don’t know how to stop yourself from thinking, and the more you try to stop, the more thinking you do. Instead of experiencing the here and now, you run around in your thinking mind worrying and wondering about the past and the future. One moment you feel great, and the next moment you feel terrible. You make it all up in your head, and your experience has little if anything to do with reality.

“In fact,” he added, “the more you study, the more you realize the term reality is a very slippery concept to grasp. You come to realize that what you usually think of as ‘real’ is really only the content of your thinking mind.

“Rather than trying to understand reality, I think we can better spend our time exploring relativity. By exploring how each thing, each thought, each feeling, is relative to all the rest of your experience, you can learn a great deal. Relativity teaches us there’s always more than one perspective, always more than one belief, always more than one understanding, in regard to any one moment in time.

“Einstein talked about placing his hand on a hot stove for one minute, and how that minute felt more like an hour. He then talked about sitting with a pretty girl for an hour, and how that hour seemed to pass so quickly.

“What he describes is very much like the experience of sitting and breathing. Minutes of chaotic thinking feel like hours, and calmness passes you by all too quickly. You manipulate and distort time, and you create a sense of connection with or separation from life itself.

“A human being is one infinitesimal part of an infinitely large universe. A tiny, tiny, something, existing for a few moments in time and space. When we feel separate from the rest of life our pain and suffering increases, as does our distortion of time. When we feel ourselves fully connected to life, everything is just as it should be.

“When I have you sit and breathe, I usually start by taking down the clock at the back of the dojo and placing it outside. You all see me do this. and yet many of you look back numerous times for the non-existent clock. With your sense of time so distorted, I wonder what information you’re hoping the clock will provide.” I felt embarrassed when I heard him say this, because more than once I was certain I could hear the ticking of the clock!

“Our belief in and dependence on time creates a kind of prison that restricts our ability to fully live and experience life. In the course of your study it’s my hope that you’ll begin to free yourself from this prison and experience how you share your pain, your pleasure, and indeed all of your life with the rest of the universe. The more you can realize you’re not alone, not separate, the more you’ll realize just how fleeting every moment is. Both the pleasure and the pain. It’s all to be experienced, appreciated, and then let go of, so that you can be ready for the next experience.”

Biting the hand that feeds you

1. Introduction

Today’s offering is a thorough rewrite of a popular story I presented several years ago. Hopefully this story will give you a new way to look at building a relationship with people you find defensive.

I also want to take this time to remind you that I’ll be teaching a two day workshop in New York City on December 3rd and 4th. The title of the workshop is “Seishindo MindBody Medicine”.

Charlie

2. Biting the hand that feeds you

Many years ago my parents gave me a parrot as a gift. The first thing I learned about parrots is that it hurts a lot when they bite you!

When I got my parrot I was living with my friend Reeves Teague. He had a “country boy” way of dealing with “critters” having grown up in the mountains of North Carolina. Here’s the process Reeves taught me for taming a wild animal.

1. Welcome and utilize the animals current behavior
At first the parrot only wants to bite you. It’s a natural act of self defense. So rather than trying to stop the parrot’s instinctual behavior, encourage and utilize it. Wear something protective on one finger, and extend this finger inviting the parrot to do as he likes.

Welcoming and utilizing the parrot’s current behavior even if it’s aggressive, is very much in the spirit of Aikido. Whether parrot or person, when you don’t act defensive and frightened, your counterpart will feel less defensive and frightened. Its fear that leads to the attack in the first place!

2. Accept the unwanted behavior while offering friendship
The parrot bites your right hand and as an act of friendship you kindly offer him a snack with your left hand. Your response will surprise and confuse him.

3. Encourage defensiveness and playfulness at the same time.
Leave your protected finger in the cage and encourage the parrot to really gnaw on it. After a short while he’ll start treating your finger more like a toy. Once he starts to act playful, offer him a snack with your other hand. Soon, he’ll come to expect and look for the snack. When you encourage defensiveness and playfulness at the same time, you begin to build a bond of friendship.

4. Blur the line between good and bad, trust and distrust.
When you reward the parrot’s “bad” behavior by feeding him, the difference between “good and bad” becomes less clear.

Once the parrot has shown a bit of playfulness, offer him the unprotected hand that’s been doing the feeding. Another way to say this is– Invite him to bite the hand that feeds him! This part of the process definitely takes some trust in the goodwill of the parrot, and on some level he will recognize this. Sensing your trust, he will begin to trust you in return. Sensing your trust, he will either not bite you, or he’ll only take a playful nip at your finger.

Now is the time to offer a snack with the hand he was previously biting. He’ll soon realize that both hands can offer him the food he desires. At this point your friendship with the parrot will deepen.

5. Change the reason for the reward.
After the parrot begins to change his behavior, only give a snack when he’s gentle and playful. Little by little you’ll be changing the reference behavior for getting the snack. Little by little the parrot will realize he only gets what he wants, when he treats you as a friend.

I’ve found this training method, to be the fastest, simplest, and most humane way to tame a parrot, and change the behavior of aggressive children and adults as well. If you’re not into buying a parrot, try it with a defensive person you’d like to have a better relationship with!

Simplicity

1. Introduction

Today I would like to further introduce you to the concepts of Seishindo.
It’s my hope that what you read will lead you to better understand yourself and help you live a more solution oriented life.

Please pass my newsletter on to others you feel might benefit.

Charlie

2. Simplicity

Prior to seeking solutions, look first to simplify

What I’ve learned over time, is that high quality solutions are invariably simple.

Conversely, when people feel incapable of finding a path forward, they invariably formulate their challenge in a way that’s overly complex. It’s the complication they’ve built up in their mind, that obscures their solution.

When people come to me looking for help, I carefully listen to how they describe their challenge. When looking for a needle in a haystack, the smaller the haystack the better! When you simplify your challenge, you will simplify the task of finding your solution.

Thus the first steps in a Seishindo change process involve slowing down, breathing more fully, pruning away all unnecessary complication, and feeling the emotional impact of the words spoken.

In Japanese culture, simplicity is a virtue, It’s considered to be the ultimate sophistication.
In Japanese art forms, one is meant to strive for simplicity. To do so, requires an unwavering soft focus, and clear, unfettered awareness of self and ‘other’.

When creating a bonsai,
The master simplifies and prunes away all but the bare essentials
Exposing a beauty that was previously obscured.

When we take off our masks, and share with an open heart,
We expose our beauty and free ourselves to express our hidden truth.

At such times the essence of who we are can shine through,
And find its rightful place in the world.
As we return to the innocence of childhood,
Yet bringing with us the wisdom we’ve discovered along the way.

Keep your whole self open to experience, and your connection to the many resources life has to offer you,
By gently expressing your truth, while striving to understand the hopes and fears of others.

You can find your connection to life everywhere, and at any time.
By pausing and letting your vulnerability resonate out into the world.

An open heart will lead you to the experiences and understanding that cuts through illusion.

Follow your heart,
It will guide you to a place of love, acceptance and fulfillment.

The meaning of Seishindo

In my years of study and practice, and in my everyday life, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the importance of ‘purity’ and ‘simplicity’.

What I’ve learned along the way, forms the basis for the human potential discipline I’ve created, called Seishindo.

Here’s an explanation of the kanji (Japanese pictograms) that make up the word Seishindo.

The first kanji is “Sei.”
The most basic meaning for “sei” is “refined”, but the meaning extends further to include, “spirit, energy, vitality, semen, purity, excellence, and skill”.

In Seishindo, I have chosen the meaning “refined and pure”.

The middle kanji is “Shin”
The meanings of “shin” are “spirit, heart (in the metaphorical sense), and mind”.
If you ask a Japanese person where their mind is, they will point to their heart.

When we combine “sei” with “shin” we have the poetic interpretation, “Pure heart, Simple mind”.

The third kanji. Is “Do”
In everyday parlance it means street, or road.
As used in the Japanese arts, “do” refers to an artful path of study.
As in Judo, Aikido, Chado (tea ceremony), and Shodo (calligraphy).

Seishindo is thus “An artful path for discovering your pure heart, simple mind”.

The path that leads to solutions
When striving to find solutions, look first to simplify,
By pruning away all that obscures your vision,
Your understanding.

In the process of creating ‘less’,
You’ll illuminate the inherent beauty of the essential.

Stones of Wisdom

1. Introduction

Welcome to all, and especially to the new subscribers that show up every week.

During the last few newsletters I’ve been writing about the theories and principles that Seishindo is based upon. Because of this I’ve been “downloading” lots of scrawling from old restaurant napkins, and from the margins of books.

In reading, I hope you’ll discover a deeper connection to yourself and the wisdom you possess.

Enjoy!

Charlie

2. Stones of Wisdom

Your thoughts have energy,
Energy is a fuel.
Your thoughts, and the energy they manifest, can sustain your life, or weaken it.

The more you talk about what you don’t want; The more you think about what upsets you- The more you feed these circumstances and relationships, with the energy of your thoughts. Whatever you imagine over the course of time, you’ll wind up manifesting.

Your thinking mind creates an energy field
Your thinking mind affects the way you use your body and breathe.
The way you use your body and breathe also creates an energy field.
The melding of these two energy fields is who you are.

Your energy field resonates, and attracts people and circumstances that have a similar frequency,
While repelling those with a significantly different frequency.

Your body, just like the body of a classical guitar, is a resonator.
When you adopt a balanced, relaxed posture, you increase your capacity to be harmoniously in tune. You increase the likelihood of your spoken word being deeply connected to your body and your emotions. At such times, generative change is immanent.

Your body is the seat of your emotions.
When we experience problems, we tend to experience our emotions and our logic as opposites. Like the two poles of a magnet.

The more we experience problems, the more we usually want to move towards one pole and away from the other. To get wildly emotional or rigidly logical.

You need to openly accept and welcome your problems.

“Easier said than done!”
Likely so!
But very necessary nonetheless.

Treat each “problem” as a guest at your door.
Invite each problem that shows up, into your life, and into your heart.

Your problems are your guides, your teachers.
Even though your problems seem to be the opposite of what you want.
Or maybe especially because of this reason!

Whatever shows up in your life that you don’t allow in or accept,
Usually winds up attacking you endlessly.

You see, it’s rarely our problem that’s the problem,
Rather, it’s the fight we create, between seeming opposites that leads to our problems in the first place.

Accept what is, while synthesizing and adapting.
Create a respectful relationship between opposites.
Between what you have and what you want.
Thesis and antithesis, leading to synthesis.

During times of great change, multiple, seemingly contradicting truths, need to be melded into a larger more encompassing whole.
This is the difference between “and” and “but”. The difference between dialogue and monologue. Dialogue and diatribe.

Who were you before your problems manifested?

Who will you be when they no longer exist?

Whatever your answer, be that way NOW!

When your attention is stable, calm, and open focus,
Your body relaxed
And your emotions balanced,
You generate a field of endless possibilities.

Center yourself, recognize your true heart’s desire, and open to the abundance of resources available to you.

Orienting to Success

1. Introduction

Today I’m going to write about how the philosophies of Seishindo can wind up playing out in some of the individual work I do with people.

What you’ll be reading is a synopsis of an actual session that took about an hour in total to complete. I’ve honed everything down to the bare essentials, so you’ll find it easy to follow along.

I’ve cleared this story with the person I worked with, and changed her name so as to protect her privacy.

I think this kind of story can be helpful for both private individuals and coaches. As it is a new style of writing for me, I would love to hear your feedback!

Regards,
Charlie

2. Orienting towards Success

In a recent seminar I was working in the front of the room with a participant, as I often do.

Fran told me in detail about the challenges she was facing with her son.

I said, “Please consider the challenges you face with your son, as a dream you would like to fulfill. Please tell me your dream.”

Fran replied, “My dream is to have a loving, caring relationship with my teenage son.”

I asked her, “How are you feeling now, having spoken your dream?”

Fran replied, “That it won’t be easy!”

“Well” I said, “Imagine a marathon runner is sitting where you are now, and she states her dream of winning a gold medal in the next Olympics. When I ask her how she feels having spoken her dream, she replies, ‘That it won’t be easy!’ How likely do you think it is, that she’ll fulfill her dream?”

Fran smiles as says, “Rather unlikely!”

“It’s obvious isn’t it?” I say, “If this woman is focusing on all the hard work involved, she likely won’t wind up doing all the hard work involved!

In your regard, I’m wondering if you’re concerned about the amount of hard work you’ll need to put in, or if instead you’re worried about whether or not your efforts will prove successful.

Do you think it’s possible to achieve a cherished goal, without being open to some unforeseen difficulties cropping up along the way? Do you think it’s possible to fully strive for your dream, without accepting the fact that you’ll likely need to put in a good deal of work?”

Fran took in all I had to say, took a deep breath, and replied, “I love my son so much that I’m terrified of losing him. My terror has literally frozen me and left me unable to move.”

“Yes” I said, “It’s rather common that people want something so much that they freeze up and do nothing, except worry about the fact that they might fail.

John Wooden was one of the most successful coaches in the history of college sports in the U.S. Coach Wooden never spoke to his players about winning or losing! He never exhorted them to go out and win. Instead, he had his players focus on their mindset and the actions they’d need to take, to perform to the best of their ability. He wanted to make sure his players didn’t distract themselves from the task of winning, by worrying about whether or not they would win!

So I suggest to you now, that you do the same. Instead of worrying about whether or not you’ll be successful, focus on your mindset and the necessary actions you’ll need to take, in order to fulfill your dream. Cultivate a positive mindset and a plan of action, follow your plan step by step, and make the necessary corrections along the way. By doing this, you will greatly increase your chance of success.”

Fran agreed to take some time to brainstorm on her own. Towards the end of the workshop I had her come up again to finish her process. She reported feeling much more confident about the possibilities of her relationship with her son. She said, “In the process of orienting towards being successful, I became aware of important points that had eluded me in the past. I realized that the more I want something the more I tend to worry. And inevitably, the more I worry the less I do, to help myself achieve my goal. From this point onwards I’m going to focus on transforming my dreams, into positively oriented actions.”

The experience of “being centered”

1. Introduction

As I said in my last newsletter, I am shifting my writing for awhile to give you a better sense of the basic principles that make up Seishindo.

I’m hoping that by reading about the basic principles of Seishindo, you’ll deepen your sense of feeling embodied, healthy, and fully alive.

Please write to me, letting me know how this new series of articles reaches you!

Below is an exercise I’ve designed to help you have an experiential understanding of what it means to be centered as we think about it in Aikido. In Aikido practice, when you’re centered you’re said to be “keeping one point”.

Charlie

2. The experience of “being centered”

Can you make an image in your mind’s eye of a monohull sailboat? Perhaps a boat that sits on a large lake, and comfortably holds you and a couple of friends out for an afternoon’s outing.

There’s a mast rising straight up from the centerline of your boat, yes? The mast is meant to be strong, while also being lightweight and flexible.

Chances are as you read these words, you’ll be sitting somewhere.
As you sit, imagine yourself to be a scale model of this sailboat as you make your way through life.

Think of your spine as being similar to the boat’s mast. Strong, lightweight, and flexible.

As you sit facing forward, your boat is facing straight ahead.
Imagine it’s a calm day out, and your boat rocks ever so much.

Depending on your feeling, you can rock your boat from back to front, or from side to side.

Rock your boat in whatever direction feels best to you.

The rhythm of your rocking is meant to be similar to the rhythm of a mother rocking her young baby in her arms.

Feeling this rhythm now in your own body, take three deep breaths as you allow your rocking motion to get ever so much bigger.

Every sailboat of course has a hull. Without a hull there would be no boat..

As you sit there now, imagine that your pelvis forms the structure of you hull, and that the deck of your hull is in line with the top of your pelvic girdle and your navel. The major portion of your hull/your pelvic structure, sits in the water, and your spine is rising straight up from the center of your pelvis.

As you most likely know, every monohull sailboat has a keel at the bottom of the boat’s centerline, and it’s the keel that gives the boat stability. How does the keel accomplish this? Well in very simple terms, the keel is quite heavy compared to the weight of the rest of the boat, and the keel sits below the waterline. It’s the weight of the keel resting at the center of the hull, below the waterline, that creates the stability.

You experience yourself as having a keel when the muscles of your torso are relaxed and your spine is straight, and thus the weight of your torso falls into the lower portion of your pelvis. It’s the weight of your torso resting in your pelvis that creates your keel.
With the top portion of your imagined keel a couple of inches below your navel and the bottom of your keel resting on the seat you’re sitting on.

It’s your keel that keeps you stable, and in terms of Aikido your keel is what we call your “center” or “one point”.

As you’re sitting there now, imagine that the bottom portion of your spine melds with your keel.

Your pelvis rests in the water, and the weight of your keel, your “one point”, sits below the waterline and gives you stability, as your boat gently rocks in the water.

Nothing more to do now, but to engage in an image and the feeling this image gives you.

Your pelvis resting in the water,

The weight of your torso resting in your pelvis creating your sense of a keel,
your center, your “one point”.

And it’s your keel reaching all the way down to the bottom of your pelvis that gives you stability,

With your strong, lightweight, flexible spine connected to your keel.

As you rock gently in whatever direction feels best to you,

Take three deep breaths now,
Having the felt sense of your “center” being in your lower abdomen and pelvis.

As you feel how your rocking motion gives you the sense of being calm, centered, and able to move with the currents and winds of life.

Living Calmness

1. Introduction

For a number of years now, I’ve been writing stories about my life in Japan. I’m finally getting fairly close to having a complete book ready for publication!

Over the years, many of you have written asking me how I came to develop my story telling style. My stories are meant to convey simple life lessons that show up during my daily experience. Lessons that could easily pass me by if I wasn’t appreciating my life and being present in the moment. By sharing my stories with you I hope you’ll learn from what I write, and consider the life lessons you come into contact with as well. In particular, by sharing my experience of having a heartfelt interaction with Japanese people, I’m hoping you can find the common ground you share with my friends here in Japan.

In order to give you a better sense of where my writing starts from, I want to take the time to explain some of the theories Seishindo is based upon. So I’m going to shift gears some and offer you some theory to think about. Hopefully, just like with my stories, you’ll l find what I write to be life affirming and engaging. Please write back when you find the time, and let me know what you think and feel.

Charlie

2. Living Calmness

In Seishindo we believe…..
Each person is very much like a snowflake.
Unique,
Never to be duplicated,
And with a life that’s over all too quickly.

One of our key tasks in life is learning how to appreciate our uniqueness rather than comparing our self to others, or lamenting about what we are not.

We are all born perfect, just as we are. Which does not mean there’s no room for improvement! We are perfectly imperfect.

As we strive to realize our potential and live a fulfilling life, we run into significant challenges along the way. In the process of being challenged we often get confused and wind up losing touch with our “wholeness”. We mistakenly begin to believe that our body, intellect, and spirit, are separate units that often work in opposition to each other, rather than sensing and maintaining the unity that is our birthright.

In Seishindo we strive to help ourselves and our loved ones, regain a sense of wholeness, health, and dignity. Over the years I’ve developed a number of principles to guide this work and offer people a way forward. Today, I’m going to write about the principle of “living calmness”.

Living calmness
When you release your muscular holding patterns, you calm your nervous system and physiology, breathe more freely and easily, and facilitate the release of carbon dioxide.

When you calm your physiology you calm your “somatic mind”, which will lead to you feeling emotionally calm as well. Your “somatic mind” is the intelligence that orchestrates much of the body’s activities and functions, and in particular, it regulates the flow of serotonin in your system. The “brain” that orchestrates your somatic intelligence is based in your enteric nervous system.

When your physiology is at ease, and your somatic mind slows down, you’ll tend to have less internal dialogue and report feeling like you’re living more in your body than usual. This feeling of being fully in your body is what we call “being centered”. When you feel centered, the flow of hormones and neurotransmitters in your body changes. From “fight or flight” to “relax and rejuvenation”. At such times your brain activity slows down as well, and your rational mind begins to feel more at ease.

When your rational mind feels safe and at ease, you open yourself up to the experience of what it’s like to think with your body as well as with your brain.
By cultivating the capacity to think with both your body and your brain, you become better able to wisely work with the unique challenges you face in your life.

When your overall system is calm, you generate greater awareness, high quality health, and a deep sense of well-being. You approach life’s many challenges from a more confident, solution-oriented perspective. You come to realize your “problems” offer you the opportunity to further grow and evolve. You understand that everything is just as it should be, just as it is, and that you have the power to change.

When you enter into such a way of being and perceiving, you come in touch with the Spirit that animates all of life. You realize that this Spirit is indeed available to you at all times, and that you are not “alone”. As you learn how to more often connect your “self” with Spirit, you experience thankfulness and a deep sense of having a rightful place in the world.

How to reach/touch this place of living calmness?
No one that I know, or know of, stays calm and centered all the time. Getting upset is an area of life that we all need to travel through from time to time.

I don’t suggest you try and stop yourself from losing your feeling of being centered. I don’t think this is a strategy that works well. Instead, I think it’s more generative to learn how to regain your center once you’ve lost it. Because indeed you will lose your center numerous, numerous times over the course of your life! So, rather than chastise yourself for once again losing your way, please instead, congratulate yourself each time you find your way back, to feeling whole, healthy, and fully alive.

Over the years, as a result of my own study and practice I’ve developed various exercises that can help you regain your sense of health and wholeness. You can go to the link that follows to begin to explore various Seishindo Practices.
http://www.seishindo.org/practices-about-mindfulness/

Work hard, don’t worry

“Kinkenrikko” Hard work and frugality

There’s a shop in my neighborhood that does laundry and ironing, that I have been using for more than twenty five years now. Over time the master and I have become friends, and I do need to emphasize “over time”. Ishibashi-san works such long hours it was hard to get the opportunity to talk with him.

You see, there was something about his smile and tone of voice when he welcomed people into his shop, that led me to want to know him better. But he was always busy ironing clothing, and I didn’t want to interrupt his work flow. So I had to create a strategy that would induce him to take a few minutes to talk.

I bought two cans of ice cold beer on a hot summer evening, and dropped by his shop just before closing to pick up a shirt I had left with him.
“Would it be bad manners?” I asked, “If I offered you a can of ice cold beer?”
“Well no, it wouldn’t be,” he said, “If you wouldn’t mind me opening up a package of squid, for the both of us to snack on.”
And thus the conversation began!

“We only work six days a week now, but for about thirty years after World War II my wife and I worked seven days a week, usually at least fourteen hours a day. We got up 4AM every morning, had a simple breakfast if we had enough food, and worked until late at night. Our time off consisted of one five day vacation a year. We were happy to have the work, because the work allowed us to have a constant source of food and shelter, and the work made it possible for us to afford having two children.

“When you spend so much time working, you don’t have the time to worry about the future. The more free time people have, the more selfish and self indulgent they tend to become. I must say, I look at young people today and I’m not surprised that Japan is having so many problems. My parents taught me the importance of “kinkenrikko” and I must say I find hard work and frugality to be two of the pillars of a happy life. When people had less they complained less. When people lived within their means, they were much less afraid of losing what they had. Nowadays so many people are frantic and worried, and few people have the time to truly nurture their family.

“The trouble these days is that people build a lifestyle they can’t easily support. If they lost their high paying job and had to work in a laundry like mine, they would feel their life had collapsed. Their children would be devastated if they weren’t able to buy the next generation of game console. People have lost touch with the essentials, and they’ve lost touch with the value of hard work. Hard work is the glue that keeps your life together.

“One more important point is this,” he said. “I think any job where you sit all day, weakens your spirit.

“I sit when I eat and lay down when I sleep, but other than that I stand and move all day. Standing and moving, makes you strong and builds your resilience to adversity. When you stand, you use your whole self, and thus you feel more in control of your life. My father worked until he was 73 and I’m already 79 and still going strong. I want to die standing up, rather than live my life sitting down. Easier is not better!

Problems First – Toyota

1. Introduction

Today’s story is an updated version of a story I often share with my Executive Coaching clients. I think the wisdom of the Toyota approach has a lot to offer you in the day to day living of your life.

Charlie

2. Problems First

Do you find it hard to feel satisfied with who you are and what you’ve accomplished so far? If so, please consider adopting the following perspective.

Toyota is one of the most successful auto makers on the planet. A fact that’s painfully obvious to its competitors.
Having studied Aikido for a few years before first meeting grandma, I could see a definite similarity between the way she bowed to me, and the way I was taught to bow to my sensei.

There’s a phrase used in Toyota that helps them stay focused on striving to be the best they can be. The phrase is “Problems First” and it leads them to look for what can be improved upon in the future, rather than being satisfied with what they’ve already accomplished.

Such a phrase could quickly lead one to feel negative and unappreciated if not framed in the right context. At Toyota they have three suppositions that help to flesh out their credo and give it a positively oriented meaning:

• The hard work and good intentions of everyone in the company is highly appreciated, and each and every worker is meant to be treated with respect.
• No matter what stage of development they’re currently involved in, they realize the concepts of “success” and “achievement” are “moving targets” that will change as the day to day success and achievements of the company continue to evolve.
• They freely acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes.

These suppositions extend up to the CEO, and down to the person emptying the waste bins. Once you really “get” these three suppositions, you can stop trying to make believe you’re “unnaturally perfect”, and instead, acknowledge and appreciate who you are.

Rather than striving to be perfect, at Toyota they share a communal aspiration of “always being capable of improvement”. This is a goal everyone can approach every single day of their life with humility and dignity. It’s also a goal they’ll never be able to say they’ve fully accomplished, and that makes it all the more fulfilling to pursue.

The quality of your work life will significantly improve once the “I have to be perfect.” monkey is off your back. You’ll be free to ask for help, and no longer need to cover up your mistakes and the imperfections you mistakenly perceive yourself as having. Rather than yearning or pretending to be someone else, you can free yourself to simply be perfectly imperfect YOU! Isn’t this the work life you yearn for?

At Toyota, instead of striving to achieve lofty yearly targets, they prefer to set their sights on humble daily and monthly goals they’re likely to accomplish. They set “small” goals that they regularly achieve, and build upon these small successes the very next day. Rather than having their eye on the future, they are focused on today. You can do the same in your own life.

In actuality, if you look closely at what they’re doing at Toyota you’ll understand that “Quality Control” and “Improved Efficiency” are not really goals, but rather idealistic pursuits with no beginning or ending. You never sit back and bask in yesterday’s achievements, as this would only make you fall behind in reaching the goals you’ve set for today. You don’t try to improve because you think something is “wrong”. Instead, you strive to improve simply because you know improvement is something you’re capable of. Holding yourself to high standards can be very gratifying when you start from a place of already appreciating and respecting yourself and your accomplishments.

If you don’t value yourself as you are now, then whatever form of self improvement you undertake in the future you’ll inevitably miss the mark. You won’t find long term fulfillment by striving to be perfect and never making mistakes. You can though discover a deep sense of satisfaction by striving day by day to fulfill your infinite potential.

In the process, you’ll find it paradoxically reassuring to know you’ll never achieve your goal!

Faking It

1. Introduction

I’ll be teaching in NYC and Burlington, Vermont starting in the middle of July.

In Vermont, I’ll be teaching one full day and several evening sessions, as part of a larger Master Practitioner program run by Jonathan Altfeld and Doug Obrien. If you would like to be my guest in any or all of the evening programs, send me an email at charlie@seishindo.org.

You are of course also welcome to take the entire 12 day Master Practitioner Program. If you would like to do that, email me immediately!

And…

It will be GREAT to be back in NYC! Here is a look at the two day program I’ll be teaching there.

Would you like to know more? Please contact me. I’m really looking forward to meeting more of the Seishindo community!

Regards,
Charlie

Seishindo Mindbody Medicine

NYC; July 23, 24 2011

I’m guessing you’ve heard the expression “The mind is willing but the flesh is weak.” It seems to be an important premise underlying much of the Western concept of health and well-being.

“If my damn body wasn’t so stubborn, I’d be thirty pounds lighter and look twenty years younger!”
So sad to see this model of the world prevalent amongst so many people.

Oriental wisdom on the other hand teaches that “the entire unit of self” is intelligent and life sustaining. That at the very least it takes a rational mind, an emotional mind, a body, and a soul, to make up one person, And it’s our job in life to coordinate and integrate these various parts of ourselves in order to live a life that’s emotionally fulfilling.

In Seishindo MindBody Medicine-
We consider the body to be a wise ally, rather than a hindrance.
We practice becoming mindful, and thus appreciative of what we do have, rather than focusing on what we think needs fixing.
We sense an indomitable spirit lies beneath the confusion and fear we all feel from time to time.
We believe in the power of people working together in community.

This workshop will be of great value, if you want to
Feel calm and centered in times of great change
Feel at home in your body, and at home in the world
Slow down and appreciate all that you do have
Refocus your life, regain your health, and rebuild your relationships

You already possess all the resources you need, to live the life you truly desire.
Come join us for a heartfelt experience that goes beyond words!

If you want to know more, or if you want to sign up to attend, you can contact me at charlie@seishindo.org.

2. Faking It

After meeting grandma a number of times she stopped going to her hands and knees when bowing to me. Instead, she began to bow while standing.

The first time she remained standing I worried I might have done something to lessen her respect for me! Years later I realize she began to stand and bow, as a way to show me our relationship was becoming less formal and more friendly.

Having studied Aikido for a few years before first meeting grandma, I could see a definite similarity between the way she bowed to me, and the way I was taught to bow to my sensei.

In Aikido class I was taught to first inhale, and then begin my exhale and bow at the same time. When my exhale was complete I was meant to pause for just a moment, and then finally rise up just as I started to inhale once again. This simple ritual, which involves integrating your breathing with your movement, can be very powerful. You feel a definite connection to the person you’re bowing to, while at the same time feeling a deep connection to yourself.

Unbeknownst to grandma, I decided one day to playfully engage her in a bowing contest. My intention was to bow to her, in the same manner as I bowed to my sensei. I was determined to bow deeper and longer than her in order to let her know I felt she was the one deserving the most respect. I guess, in retrospect, I also wanted to show myself that my bowing was better than hers!

So I rang her bell, and seized my chance.

She opened the door and bowed deeply as usual. Then, just as she bobbed up from her bow like a diver raising her head above water to get a fresh supply of oxygen, I began my bow. I stayed down as long as I thought I could without seeming unnatural, and then just as I was coming up… I saw grandma going back down in the opposite direction. Bowing even deeper than she had the first time, while once again mumbling wonderful things about me.

Not to be outdone, I waited patiently while pacing my breathing to her movements. Just as she started to bob up a second time, I began my exhale and went down a second time. I paused for what seemed like longer than I should have, and then slowly came back up… only to see her going back down!

I’m not sure how many times we did this. Perhaps five complete rounds. All I know is it seemed like an eternity.

It was as if we were connected by a system of weights and pulleys. Her coming up required me to go down, and the same was true when we both went in the opposite direction.

What I felt from the first moment of my little contest, was that her bowing had a presence and a power to it that my bowing didn’t. I felt like the guy you sometimes see in a photo that has an odd looking smile on his face, because rather than really smiling, he’s only pretending to smile. The fact that I was only pretending to bow and show respect, and she wasn’t, was immediately apparent to me, and perhaps to grandma as well.

I was bowing with my body, but not with my heart. I wasn’t bowing as an expression of my thanks. I felt embarrassed and I vowed to myself to authentically show her my respect in the future.

What I learned from my little contest is this-
The thanks and respect we show others,
If it’s to have any real meaning,
If it’s to be more than an empty social ritual,
Must be initiated from a heartfelt sense of appreciation and humility.

Vulnerability can be a strength

1. Introduction

As I inch towards completing my book of stories about Japan, from time to time I rewrite some of my older offerings. Today you get to read one of my very first stories, about a person that had an important impact on my life. Although obaa-chan* passed away a number of years ago, I can still feel her presence in my life.

Please click on this link to have a look at a picture of me and obaa-chan. I think it will bring a smile to your face! Someone suggested I title the photo “Beauty and the Beast”!

Charlie

2. Vulnerability can be a strength

Living in Japan for so long, I’ve learned a great deal about life from a unique perspective. One of my greatest teachers was my wife’s grandmother, who passed away several years ago.

My most enduring memory of “obaa-chan” is the first time I went to her house to meet her. She was 81 years old at the time, and still rather sprite. My wife rang the bell, and obaa-chan called out for us to enter. Just as we opened the door, obaa-chan was sliding down onto her hands and knees to bow. There was something magical and mysterious about this moment. Meeting someone for the very first time, but initially only getting the slightest glimpse of their face. As obaa-chan descended into her bow, I was left looking at the back of her head, with her hair immaculately fashioned into a bun.

As funny as it might seem, the first thought that sprung to mind was a scene from my childhood. A teacher was lecturing me on how to best prepare for meeting an important person. He said, “If time is limited as two men prepare to meet their potential boss, the man looking to show off will take most of his time to polish the front of his shoes until they sparkle. After all he wants to impress as much as possible from the moment he enters the room. The more thorough man on the other hand will give just as much time and attention to polish the back of his shoes as he does to the front. He does this because he realizes the importance of taking care of every detail. He values substance more than flash.

“If you take a moment to think about it, it’s the thorough man that will make the best impression, as he leaves the room, because he looks as good going out, as he did coming in. The show-off with the scruffy heels will leave the impression of a careless man who values image more than substance.”

I thought about this lesson as I looked at the back of obaa-chan’s head, as she paused with her face about six inches above the floor. She had certainly taken the time to attend to every detail!

To be standing there while a person offers their complete supplication was a totally new experience for me, and my next thought led me to consider the importance of this ritual in a culture that’s been strongly influenced by the code of the samurai. Going down to one’s hands and knees to bow would offer an adversary the chance to lop off one’s head! I smiled as I held this thought and realized her show of humility also meant she was asking for my kindness. I had the feeling that by displaying her vulnerability she had somehow left me at a disadvantage! Even though I had yet to really see her face and knew almost nothing about her, I already felt I had to find a way to live up to the respect she was showing me.

Feeling suspended in space and time as I bowed sheepishly, I wondered what else I should be doing as I waited for her to complete this ritual. In that moment I remembered the words of my Aikido sensei. “If you want to truly know the mind of your counterpart, show them your vulnerability.”

*obaa-chan” is the Japanese term for grandmother.

Never underestimate the power of your original self

1. Introduction

Although there is still a tremendous amount of uncertainty regarding the nuclear situation up north, for the most part life in Tokyo has settled back down. Because of the nuclear plants no longer generating power, we will be faced with some extra challenges this summer, but such is life!

The people close to the devastated area in the north are still suffering tremendously, and any further help in the form of donations, is still greatly needed.

Thanks again for all the support people have been offering me.

Regards,
Charlie

2. Never underestimate the power of your original self

As part of my process of writing this newsletter, I have lots of nuggets of information stored in various locations. Today’s newsletter brings together thoughts and experiences I’ve been ruminating on for a while now.

We increase our suffering by failing to appreciate the opportunities and learning our current challenges offers us. There is no life without challenges.

When we attempt to escape from what we find unpleasant, we miss out on the possibility of learning life affirming lessons, and achieving what we most desire. Attempting to move away from what we don’t want leads us to settle for the scraps of life instead of feasting on the meal.

Indeed the more you try to avoid suffering, the more suffering you’ll wind up experiencing. The same is true of illness.

You’ll improve the quality of your life by striving to better understand what’s confusing you, rather than looking to escape from your turmoil.

“Solution” and “problem” are two sides of the same coin. With a solution in hand, there is no problem. Look for the solutions inherent in your current situation, rather than looking to fix what you perceive to be wrong.

Instead of fighting against the seeming competing desires you have, use your whole self to stay cooperatively engaged in your struggle and you’ll find something within you shifts Over time your struggle will be transformed into a life affirming lesson.

Wanting to experience peace of mind is a fine goal to have, if you also realize you’ll sometimes have little choice but to feel distressed. In fact, much of life happens in between the two.

Nothing stays the same forever and thus change is inevitable. Today’s suffering will turn into tomorrow’s happiness, and eventually you’ill surely suffer once again. That’s just the way life is.

Accepting that change is inevitable helps you move with life rather than attempting to hold onto either the “bad” or the “good”. As you open up to the need for change, you’ll find yourself suffering more effectively. Peace of mind is sure to follow!

In Aikido we understand that if we follow the direction of an attack without impeding the attacker, the confusion being expressed will be fully expended and a new, more life affirming relationship can then begin to emerge.

You need some silence and solitude in your life so that you can begin to hear the inner voice of your original self. This is not the voice of your internal dialogue. This is the voice that’s hidden in the depths of your soul, and it speaks to you without words.

It’s your internal chaos that destroys your capacity for inner peace, and not the world around you. Its your internal chaos that weakens the root energy of your life force and the wisdom of your original self. You need to strive to know yourself as you were in the beginning of your life. Know youself as you were as a very young child- Filled with amazement and curiosity.

A happy life is not built upon understanding why. A happy life requires that you live in the midst of uncertainty and do so gracefully. When you’re graceful there’s a beauty that exudes from the way you move and carry yourself, because you do only what’s necessary. Nothing more and nothing less. When you’re graceful there’s a sense of proper proportion, an ideal relationship, between yourself and the rest of life. Between your happiness and your sadness. You sense your life is “just right” as it is, and thus there’s a stillness that permeates your being.in the midst of the unknown.

When you experience grace in the midst of illness, defeat, or other suffering, you’re able to appreciate the small pleasures of life, and each challenge you face serves to strengthen the dreams you hold in your heart.

Fundamentals of Happiness

1. Introduction

My birthday came round again on May 10th and I want to thank all of you who sent me a greeting. Lovely to be held by the group in this way!

My “Eight Essential Questions- Focus on the Life You Desire” is proving to be quite popular. Close to 1,000 people have downloaded it so far, and I’m getting lots of good feedback, including suggestions for future improvements.

The Eight Essential Questions” are meant to help you reconnect your words with your feelings, so you can begin to live with greater clarity and purpose.

If you are interested in receiving the document, please contact me.

Regards,
Charlie

2. Loss is an essential element of success and happiness

I was sitting around having dinner with a few friends, about a month after the big earthquake and tsunami up north of Tokyo.

“Now is the time for the Japanese people to show their true spirit,” Suzuki-san said. “You never really know the heart of another person during good times. It’s not until some form of disaster that you find out what people really believe, and what they base their life upon.

In Japanese culture we are taught to celebrate success in a subdued fashion, keeping in mind that tomorrow brings a new set of challenges. We are taught that success is fleeting and doesn’t last all that long.

As time goes on, I think Japanese people have come to misunderstand the meaning of success, and the happiness it can bring. It seems that these days people confuse success with winning, or being able to say, ‘I am better than others.’. In my mind, nothing could be further from the truth. I believe you can’t really understand success, until you’ve tasted defeat. Loss is an essential element of success and happiness.”

I nodded my head and said nothing, knowing my friend was speaking an important truth.

“You see,” Suzuki-san said, “I grew up as a farmer, and as a farmer you soon learn that a good crop is often followed by a bad crop the following season. Also, as a farmer you share the water used for growing your rice, with all your neighbors. Because each person needs to depend on the good will of another, you can’t celebrate a good harvest unless your neighbors also did well. In our rice growing culture we learned that water and success, are meant to be shared with the entire community. During hard times you also shared your food with your neighbors if they had none, knowing they would do the same for you.

So now, as a nation we need to share with each other once again. Those of us with more, need to give to those who have less. It’s in the act of giving that you feel your connection to others. When you give you offer up thanks for all you have, and realize you don’t live this life as a separate individual.

Times like now help you realize how fleeting success and happiness are. It’s only after losing everything that you can finally fully appreciate how much you had before. A healthy person tends to take their good condition for granted, until they get sick.

These days it seems people don’t really experience appreciation, because they’re always wanting something more. People don’t seem to know what it feels like to be satisfied. I taught my children to not base their good feeling on something that will likely be gone tomorrow. I also taught them to not base their good feeling on what they can buy.

As you’ve heard me say before, I believe losing World War II was a great gift for the Japanese people. A very harsh gift, but a great gift nonetheless, because losing tested the strength of the Japanese soul. We had to reevaluate our culture and discover what this defeat really meant for us. We had to dig deep to find our hearts laying underneath the rubble of the bombings.

And now, I fervently pray we find the courage to accept this earthquake and tsunami as another gift meant to test our spirit. I’m hoping that the coming years are a time for great renewal in Japan.

Mushin – A concept of innocent simplicity

1. Introduction

There is a lot still going on here, but at this point it seems that barring something unexpected in regard to the nuclear reactors, we should be safe in Tokyo.
Still though, there has been aftershocks every day, and the ones that occur in the middle of the night, are the most unsettling. Oh well… It offers me a good opportunity to practice Seishindo!

I would like to once again offer everyone the Seishindo coaching tool
“Eight Essential Questions- Focus on the Life You Desire”. More than 400 of you have downloaded it since last month, with many people already writing back saying the document has been very helpful.

All too often in our lives, we speak, without really hearing and feeling what we are saying. The Eight Essential Questions” are meant to reconnect your words to your feelings, so you can begin to live with greater clarity and purpose.

If you would like the Questions document, please contact me.

Regards,
Charlie

2. Mushin- A concept of innocent simplicity

From time to time I get to meet exceptional teachers in Japan. Often what happens is I go to visit a friend and it turns out that one of the other guests is a highly regarded sensei.

Recently I had the opportunity to meet a man that works as an architect. Here is what Okamoto sensei had to say about his work.

“Charlie-san, our host said you have an interest in architecture. She suggested I tell you about the concepts that influence my work, and thus I’ve taken some time to think about this topic. In Japanese culture, and particularly in Japanese architecture mushin is an important concept to understand. In relationship to my work, the two ideas I hold in regard to the meaning of mushin are “innocence” and “free from obstructive thinking”. I strive to make all my work as simple as possible, without any visual, emotional, or physical obstructions.

What I’ve found over the years is, the simpler you make something, the more obvious the obstructions in your thinking appear. Rather than being bothered or constrained by the relationship between simplicity and obstruction, I find it very energizing. In the early stages of each new design, I look forward to discovering the weakness in my thinking. This leads me to understand I sometimes try to hide my weaknesses by obscuring them with complexity. The more simple the design, the less there is to hide behind. I must say that each time I discover this I am humbled. It’s only by being willing to own up to my many personal flaws, that I can little by little do away with the flaws in my designs.

In both my personal and professional life, I attempt to discard all extraneous actions and thought. I strive to be economical, ecological, and graceful, and follow a path of least resistance and optimal effect. I’ve found that I am most likely to embody this way of being prior to reflecting on what I’m doing. At such times, which still only happen rarely for me, I’m in a state of open focus relaxation, and my thoughts and actions occur simultaneously. Nothing comes between my thoughts and my actions, and neither is anything left over, or left undone. When I’m able to embody such a state I feel better both physically and emotionally, and I consider my work to be a reflection of my soul.

Sensei paused to make certain he still had my attention. “If you don’t mind,” he said, “let me please say one more thing, at the risk of filling the space with too many words.

Tao de Ching, the classic Chinese text of wisdom says the following,

A door and windows are cut out from the walls, to form a room. It’s the emptiness that the walls, floor, and ceiling encompass, that allows for the space to live in.
Thus what we gain is Something, yet it’s from the virtue of Nothing that this Something derives.


If you’ve ever been in a traditional Japanese room or Zen temple you’ll see that these spaces are filled with the same emptiness as described in the quote I’ve just read. Space is filled with “nothing”, as a way to allow for the infinite potential a room encompasses. This is an important part of the Japanese design aesthetic. The experience of “emptiness” is an invitation to empty one’s thinking mind, so that a new, innocent reality might appear.”

3. Seishindo Offer

If you would like to return to a simpler way of living, engaging in some coaching sessions might be just the thing to get you started in the right direction.

Beyond the “Eight Essential Questions” I will give you a series of mp3s that will help you regain your emotional balance, and reduce the stress you’ve been feeling.

Just email me at charlie@seishindo.org and we can engage in a “chemistry check” conversation to see if you would like to explore further.

Charlie

The more you resist, the more you restrict… what is possible

1. Introduction

Today’s newsletter is a rewrite of an article I published several years ago. In looking through my archives to draw inspiration I found the following to still hold great interest for me.

••••

There are two sides to every coin.
The opposite of something you believe to be true, can also be true,
And from time to time I find it important to remember this.
Niels Bohr said, “The opposite of a fact is a falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.”

Today’s article is titled “The more you resist, the more you restrict what is possible.” I think there’s some important wisdom in this statement.
And yet someone might write back to me saying “I find what you wrote to be importantly incorrect. If I had not resisted the drugs my friends were offering me, I would have severely restricted what I am capable of doing and being.”

In such a case I would likely write back and say, “Yes, you are correct. Often, the opposite of what appears to be true, is also true, and thus I invite you to consider the possibility of a larger truth, a larger context. Context determines meaning.“

Today’s article is a compilation of notes that were written up on flip charts during a Seishindo workshop. Each workshop, no matter what the content, is rather improvisational in nature. The reason for this is that I attempt to draw out the wisdom that’s inherent in each group. I follow this process because I’m very much aware that “I” am not the only one in the group who has something important to share, something of value to teach. The wisdom residing in the group is much fuller, much wiser, than the wisdom residing only in Charlie.

What’s written below are not “my” words, but rather, the collective wisdom of the people attending the workshop.

Charlie

2. The more you resist, the more you restrict… what is possible

It’s your emotional state that tells you whether or not you’re resisting what’s taking place in and around you.
When you’re upset, you’re resisting what is,
Because it doesn’t match what you want.
The more you resist, the more you restrict…
What is possible.

••••

Before focusing on what you want out of life, you’ll do well to focus on what you’re gladly willing to give,
In advance.

Give first,
To prime the pump of receiving.
When you empty yourself by giving,
You wind up with the capacity to receive much more.

All of life involves give and take,
Like inhaling and exhaling.
When you give you also take, when you take you also give.

In order to receive what you truly want and need,
In order to set the stage to fully receive,
You must first let go of what you currently don’t have.

••••

What you’re experiencing and feeling right now, is the residual effect of your past beliefs and thinking.
In order to have a new experience and feel differently, you’ll need to change what you’re thinking about, and what you believe to be true.

••••

The difference between your hopes and your fears, is what determines who you become.
It’s through focusing on what you want and don’t want, that you become who you are.

••••

You can continue to focus on the hardships you’ve encountered, the bad treatment you’ve received,
Wanting to right the wrong,

Or instead,
You can begin to focus on what you truly want.
The choice is yours.

Retribution and self fulfillment,
Are rarely served on the same plate.

••••

Quiet your thinking mind and your soul will move you towards what you truly want and need.
If you want more than you already have,
Focus first on being thankful,
For what you already have.

The more you’re able to appreciate what you do have, without trying to hold on to what you have,
The more you’ll have to share with others,
And the more goodness you’ll attract.

The better able you are to softly focus on what you do want,
What you don’t want will tend to dissolve.

Whatever you desire over the course of time,
Be it having or not having,
Be it doing away with or receiving,
You’ll wind up strengthening and materializing.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way you’ll wind up being correct!”

The Ebb and Flow of Life

1. Introduction

In my coaching I’ve developed various tools to help people work through issues on their own, prior to, during, and after their coaching engagements with me. One of the most helpful tools has proven to be “Eight Essential Questions- Focus on the Life You Desire”.

If you would like a copy of the document, please contact me.

The aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami are still very much with us in Japan as we’re getting numerous strong aftershocks every day. This leads me to once again present a water related story I wrote a number of years ago.

In Community,
Charlie

2. The Ebb and Flow of Life

During my first year in Japan I hitchhiked for two weeks, visiting rural fishing villages on the west coast of Japan. At the time I spoke little Japanese, and relied on the kindness of the people I met.

I visited tiny villages that had no hotels and rarely encountered tourists. Upon entering a village, I would find a kind-looking soul and pantomime that I needed a place to sleep. When my acting skills proved sufficient, I wound up in the house of a family willing to take in visitors for a small fee. After eating with my hosts, I would then be led to a simple room to sleep in.

In one village I had the privilege of staying with a remarkable man and his family. One night the man and I sat on a small wooden dock by the ocean. Using lots of gestures to help me understand, the man told me about his life. He was 63 years old. As a boy he’d been very involved in studying karate, but at the age of nineteen his life changed dramatically. Working on his father’s fishing boat in rough seas, he lost his balance, and fell just as he was throwing a heavy fishing cage overboard. His left leg got caught in the line attached to the cage and the damage caused to the muscles and nerves of his left calf was severe. This left him with a permanent limp.

Once he realized he’d no longer be able to study karate, he made a firm commitment to use his life as a fisherman to further his studies. He read various books written by martial arts masters and then applied the principles of what he learned to his work life.

“One of the most important things I learned,” he said, “is to create a rhythm with your posture, movements, and breathing, that matches the rhythm of nature. When I injured myself on the boat, I was so involved in handling the heavy cage that I lost touch with the flow of my surroundings. I was fighting against the ocean, rather than moving with it. Guess what? The ocean won!”

“Notice the gentle ebb and flow of the water as we sit here now,” he said, “and the sound of the tide lapping against the pilings of the pier.”

“As you sense the movement and sounds of the ocean, notice your breathing, and feel your body responding.”

I began to do as he suggested and felt myself being drawn into a parallel world that was outside my everyday awareness.

“Feel the life force of the ocean, and without doing anything, allow yourself to move with the ocean.

“Breathe, move, and feel your heartbeat.

“Invite your heartbeat to synchronize with the heartbeat of the ocean.

“As you become one with the water, you might sense the fluids in your body ebbing and flowing, like the ocean entering into a shallow inlet filled with coral.

“Like the ocean, you can begin to feel the power of flowing without resisting. Flowing without fighting against.

“Water surrounds and moves past all obstacles, and you can do the same.

“Simply flow.

“A single drop of water, has no power. A single drop of water moving with the flow of the ocean forms a wave. The power of the wave comes from joining with. The same is true of me and you.”

We sat there together for a while. The man, myself, and the ocean.

Not separate, but together.

In that moment I sensed all power is really One.

The Mind of Aikido and Water

1. Introduction

Thanks to all for the wonderful support that so many of you in the community have offered me over the last couple of weeks! Very much appreciated.

There is a LOT to still be determined here in Japan, but don’t believe all of the exaggerated stories about radiation etc. that you’ve been reading. The devastation in some areas has been huge, and many people need a LOT of help, but meanwhile, most of the rest of us here are coping well, while striving to live a calm day to day existence.

Below is an URL for a non-profit that is doing wonderful work in Japan. They’ve been feeding the homeless and needy for years, and they have really stepped up their activities to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Even if you have already given, further donations are very much needed!

For every 1,000 yen donated (about US$12 these days), they deliver 10,000 yen worth of food to the needy!

http://2hj.org/english/

The tsunami in particular has led me to stop and pause. The power of the incoming water was beyond what I imagined possible!

To honor the victims of the tsunami I have rewritten, and am presenting today, a story I wrote several years ago. It’s based on an evening spent with Senta Yamada Sensei, a leading teacher of Tomiki Aikido. Since I wrote this story, sensei passed away on August, 8, 2010, so I would like to honor him today as well. He was a wise and wonderful teacher to all who made his acquaintance.

Keep the faith!

In Community,
Charlie

2. The Mind of Aikido and Water

While in Japan, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many exceptional people. Recently when visiting a friend I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Senta Yamada sensei for the first time.
Uncharacteristically for a Japanese person, he moved his hands a lot as he spoke. He did this to portray his perception of the movements essential to the “mind” of Aikido and water.

When he first started to talk he said to me,
“While you sit there, please breathe freely and move your body some, so you can feel the movement and mind my words suggest to you.

Water unites all the world’s land masses, large and small. Connecting what is seemingly separate, distant, and different, into one seamless spherical whole.
Water has an intelligence, a mind,
And in Aikido we strive to embody this same intelligence.

We cultivate our energy flow to “become one with” others. Especially those appearing angry and frightened.
We strive to dissolve any sense of separation, distance, or difference.
And even when moving away from others, we do so with the intent of joining with and returning back to them.

Water not only joins together the land masses of earth, it also unites the earth and sky via never ending cycles of precipitation, movement, and evaporation.
This is the same process human beings mirror in birth, life, and death.

Just like water, we come from heaven, spend time on earth, and return back to heaven once again.
Becoming, being, dying. Life, death, recycling.

Water expands and contracts depending on circumstances, and the same is true of the human spirit.
When you’re harsh to a child, their spirit contracts.
When you love a child, their spirit expands,
Out past the two of you and into the universe.

The presence of water throughout our ecosystem is similar to the presence of the body’s fluid system. Enveloping and uniting the cells and tissue of the body.
The mind of water, the body’s fluid system, and Aikido, all have the same intention.
Move with, absorb, nurture, cleanse, renew.

When everything is experienced as an integral part of the One there is no disease, no attack, no separation, death, or destruction.

Regardless of the form it may take—rain, mist, steam, dew, snow, ice—water always has a spherical mind.
This mind of roundness is a key principle in the mind of non-dissension.
In Aikido we project a full round presence to our adversary and flow with their movements.

Just like water, we offer no hard surfaces to bump up against, and nothing to grab hold of.
We encourage our adversaries to follow their course of action to its likely outcome, in the same way water follows the path of gravity downhill.
Moving always towards center, until the time of renewal and rising up again.

Regardless of the obstacles encountered water does not stop, it does not give up.
It searches endlessly for the path of least resistance, and when there is none it rests, consolidates its power, and rises up.
Waiting for another opportunity.
Waiting for the proper moment… an opening.

A single drop of water has little power, but many drops joined together can sweep away everything in its path,
With the relentless force of a tsunami.

Water joins with, is absorbed by, and surrounds.
It does not strive to act separately, but waits to be moved by the forces of nature.

With a mind of endless effortless rest, renewal, and movement,
As calm when doing as when simply being.
We can realize the end of every journey as a new beginning,
Every destination as temporary, every goal as cyclical.

Beginning complete

We remain complete

With nowhere to go

Nothing to accomplish

Nothing to fulfill

Except our destiny

Our returning

Is never in question.

3. My Offer

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your current circumstances, you are certainly not alone in these turbulent times.

Write to me at charlie@seishindo.org and I’ll send you a set of questions designed to help you come to grips with what you need to be doing differently.

Charlie

A crisis of faith

1. Introduction

Blessings and thanks to all in the Seishindo community during a time of great upheaval in Japan. And yes, upheaval is exactly what it’s been!

Likely at least 15,000 people have perished, and more than 500,000 people are homeless. Apparently many of the homeless are living in weather that goes down to around freezing at night, and since they fled their homes on a moment’s notice, they have little in the way of blankets etc. Heating fuel and food in the public facilities is scarce, so people are facing some tough times.

So please, do what you can financially, and also very importantly, please send your prayers and positive energy in this direction.

Tokyo is basically still fine, and our main concern is the nuclear facilities. Lets work to transmute all that nuclear energy into an energy that serves humankind and the planet!
There have been many many acts of kindness and bravery, and I shed some tears last night when I turned on the TV and saw rescue crews arriving from around the world to help.

I am posting several times a day on the Seishindo Fan Page on Facebook, and many people have been replying with their support. Please come and join us!
I find Facebook to be a positive environment, so if you have to sign up to see the page, rest assured that it will not wind up being a hassle in the long run.

http://www.facebook.com/seishindo/

All the best to all of us!
Charlie

2. A crisis of faith

The moment sensei walked into the dojo I could tell he had something specific to say today.

Here’s the lesson he presented us with.

Many of you come to class not realizing you’re suffering from a crisis of faith. The less you recognize this, the more it winds up affecting everything you do.

With some of you I get the feeling you’re sitting there while dreading what might go wrong, Dreading that you might show up as being incompetent or uncertain. When I look around to gauge how everyone’s feeling on a certain day, many of you look everywhere else but at me. It’s as if you’re saying “Please don’t call on me sensei!”, and yet supposedly you’re here to learn. What this tells me is your body’s in the dojo, but your thinking mind is somewhere else.

Take an inventory of yourself now. Is your posture open and expansive? Are you breathing freely and easily? Is your muscle system relaxed and at ease? If not, you’re almost certainly not feeling confident.

What are your afraid of? The attack of your counterpart who is simply performing his half of a training task? The judgment of people watching who might say you’re clumsy and unskilled? Or perhaps without realizing it, what you’re fearing most is the attack of your own negative self judgments. Your lack of faith in yourself as a competent learner.

What would your life be like if you believed you were a fine person, an intelligent person, an overall good learner? In other words, what would your life be like if you didn’t think something was wrong with you? Many of you would be quick to reply, ‘Oh no, not me.’, if someone said you were a wonderful person, and ‘Oh yes that’s me.’, if someone said you had a lot of problems that needed fixing.

I talk to you over and over again about the importance of being fully present in class. I tell you that just as you take off your slippers and leave them outside the dojo, you also need to do the same with your limiting beliefs. I know that isn’t easy to do, but ‘easy’ isn’t what we’re concerned with here. What you need to be concerned with is trusting in yourself, and noticing if you go inside your head searching for negative memories, when you don’t have immediate success.

The principles of Aikido are actually rather simple, but simple does not equal easy. In fact I have found that doing things simply usually takes a good deal of hard work. A good deal of practice. I think part of the reason for this is that we think too much and make things more complicated than they really are. If you start out with a lack of confidence you will expect difficulty. When you expect difficulty it means your head is already filled with thoughts before you even begin. The more thoughts you have filling your head, the less you’ll be able to notice what is. The less you’ll be able to notice the simplicity.

Every accomplished artist, whether a ballerina or a boxer, performs with grace and ease. They can do this because they’ve pruned away everything that’s not essential to their performance. They snipped and trimmed until all of the complications and difficulty have been removed. With less to pay attention to they can give much more attention to what’s left. Being confident in their ability, there’s no separation between thinking and doing. There is only One.

Take an inventory of yourself now. Is your posture open and expansive? Are you breathing freely and easily? Is your muscle system relaxed and at ease? If so, you’ll have overcome your crisis of faith!

All the best to you going forward,

Charlie

A crisis of faith

1. Introduction

Blessings and thanks to all in the Seishindo community during a time of great upheaval in Japan. And yes, upheaval is exactly what it’s been!

Likely at least 15,000 people have perished, and more than 500,000 people are homeless. Apparently many of the homeless are living in weather that goes down to around freezing at night, and since they fled their homes on a moment’s notice, they have little in the way of blankets etc. Heating fuel and food in the public facilities is scarce, so people are facing some tough times.

So please, do what you can financially, and also very importantly, please send your prayers and positive energy in this direction.

Tokyo is basically still fine, and our main concern is the nuclear facilities. Let’s work to transmute all that nuclear energy into an energy that serves humankind and the planet! There have been many many acts of kindness and bravery, and I shed some tears last night when I turned on the TV and saw rescue crews arriving from around the world to help.

I am posting several times a day on the Seishindo Fan Page on Facebook, and many people have been replying with their support. Please come and join us!
I find Facebook to be a positive environment, so if you have to sign up to see the page, rest assured that it will not wind up being a hassle in the long run.

http://www.facebook.com/seishindo/

All the best to all of us!
Charlie

2. A crisis of faith

The moment sensei walked into the dojo I could tell he had something specific to say today. Here’s the lesson he presented us with.

Many of you come to class not realizing you’re suffering from a crisis of faith. The less you recognize this, the more it winds up affecting everything you do.

With some of you I get the feeling you’re sitting there while dreading what might go wrong, Dreading that you might show up as being incompetent or uncertain. When I look around to gauge how everyone’s feeling on a certain day, many of you look everywhere else but at me. It’s as if you’re saying “Please don’t call on me sensei!”, and yet supposedly you’re here to learn. What this tells me is your body’s in the dojo, but your thinking mind is somewhere else.

Take an inventory of yourself now. Is your posture open and expansive? Are you breathing freely and easily? Is your muscle system relaxed and at ease? If not, you’re almost certainly not feeling confident.

What are your afraid of? The attack of your counterpart who is simply performing his half of a training task? The judgment of people watching who might say you’re clumsy and unskilled? Or perhaps without realizing it, what you’re fearing most is the attack of your own negative self judgments. Your lack of faith in yourself as a competent learner.

What would your life be like if you believed you were a fine person, an intelligent person, an overall good learner? In other words, what would your life be like if you didn’t think something was wrong with you? Many of you would be quick to reply, ‘Oh no, not me.’, if someone said you were a wonderful person, and ‘Oh yes that’s me.’, if someone said you had a lot of problems that needed fixing.

I talk to you over and over again about the importance of being fully present in class. I tell you that just as you take off your slippers and leave them outside the dojo, you also need to do the same with your limiting beliefs. I know that isn’t easy to do, but ‘easy’ isn’t what we’re concerned with here. What you need to be concerned with is trusting in yourself, and noticing if you go inside your head searching for negative memories, when you don’t have immediate success.

The principles of Aikido are actually rather simple, but simple does not equal easy. In fact I have found that doing things simply usually takes a good deal of hard work. A good deal of practice. I think part of the reason for this is that we think too much and make things more complicated than they really are. If you start out with a lack of confidence you will expect difficulty. When you expect difficulty it means your head is already filled with thoughts before you even begin. The more thoughts you have filling your head, the less you’ll be able to notice what is. The less you’ll be able to notice the simplicity.

Every accomplished artist, whether a ballerina or a boxer, performs with grace and ease. They can do this because they’ve pruned away everything that’s not essential to their performance. They snipped and trimmed until all of the complications and difficulty have been removed. With less to pay attention to they can give much more attention to what’s left. Being confident in their ability, there’s no separation between thinking and doing. There is only One.

Take an inventory of yourself now. Is your posture open and expansive? Are you breathing freely and easily? Is your muscle system relaxed and at ease? If so, you’ll have overcome your crisis of faith!

Pain and Suffering

1. Introduction

Today I’d like to introduce you to Howard Shifke, a new friend of the Seishindo community. Howard has fully recovered from Parkinson’s Disease using a holistic approach he developed on his own. Anybody who has, or knows somebody who has Parkinson’s, can learn a lot and be inspired by reading Howard’s blog. In fact I think everyone and anyone can be inspired by what he has done. I certainly am!

Howard’s philosophy is fully in tune with Seishindo’s, and you can contact him directly by sending him an email at hshifke@gmail.com.

Please mention that you learned about Howard from Seishindo, so we can get a sense of the cross-pollination that occurs.

His blog is here, http://fightingparkinsonsdrugfree.blogspot.com/.

Today’s story is a major rewrite of one I wrote a long time ago. I offer it here as a way of celebrating Howard’s healing, and as an advance celebration for all the healing that can take place in all of our lives.

In Community,
Charlie

2. The benefits of Suffering

Sensei said, “I’m always quite intrigued when I read about monks and priests from the West, that express the same feelings we have in Japan.

I recently read that the Trappist monk Thomas Merton said, ‘I became a monk not so as to suffer more, but to suffer more effectively.’ Now I can’t say that’s what led me to study Aikido, but I can say the principle Merton sensei expressed, is one that has guided me over time.

The more new students go on about how excited they are to be studying Aikido, the more I’m led to guess they’re trying to escape from suffering. They fail to realize their suffering is created by their beliefs, and not by the outside world. Trying to run away from suffering is like trying to run away from yourself. Anywhere you go, anywhere you get to, you’ll only find your negative beliefs sitting and welcoming you as you arrive. And that’s why in Aikido we look to create a tiny bit of suffering with some of our practices. It’s a good way to see whether or not you are still trying to escape.

You see, the way you respond to what’s taking place, says much more about your beliefs than you realize. Some of you have started to realize your tendency is to try and escape from an attacker rather than joining with them. You’ll never be able to escape the attacker, because you’ll never be able to escape from yourself.

I believe people increase their suffering, each time they try and avoid it. In attempting to escape from your pain rather than settling into it, you set the stage for further misery. Some degree of suffering is inherent to the human condition.

If you’ve been coming to class for awhile now you’ve heard me ask this question before, ‘If it wasn’t for your suffering who would you be today?’ Your answer will say a lot about the way you feel about yourself, the manner in which you approach learning and change, and the reason why you come to class. You’ll improve the quality of your life by immersing yourself in your struggle, rather than looking to escape from it. By realizing that pain is something you create inside your head.

I suggest you ask yourself, ‘How does my perception of my current problem, my current struggle, mirror my overall beliefs in life?’ If your current situation stayed the same, but you changed your belief system would you still be suffering? 
In other words, how would your problems appear to be different if you were different?

Happiness and suffering are two sides of the same coin. Look for the happiness inherent in your current suffering, rather than looking to fix what you perceive to be wrong.

When you’re suffering, your emotional mind and your rational mind are locked in combat. 
Instead of fighting against yourself, use your whole self to stay cooperatively engaged in your struggle and you’ll find something within you shifts. Over time your struggle will be transformed into a life affirming lesson.

When you feel ill at ease in the world, it’s a signal that part of you is calling out for help. When you willingly heed this call, the value of your struggle becomes apparent. I think we find no greater example of this, then when a person is diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Disease is the body’s way of telling you, the way you’re leading your life isn’t working. Your symptoms are alerting you to the need for change. Be thankful for the feedback. Without it, you would soon no longer be alive.

Koans, paradox, and prayer

1. Introduction

Spring hasn’t quite arrived in Tokyo yet, and we’ve actually had a light dusting of snow these last two days.

But lately, internally I’ve been feeling like spring has already begun, and I have the sense something new is being born into my life. It’s a wonderful feeling to have after a long winter!

I want to alert you all to a business related article on my site that’s ready for download.

Here’s what it says on our site:

You can download the Seishindo white paper “The High Cost of Turnover.” This paper takes a detailed look at the full spectrum of costs involved when an organization loses an employee (instead of coaching them) – and describes specific ways to improve employee retention.

If you think this article might be useful in your career, please download it and have a read. If you’re in the HR field you should find this article particularly useful. Please also feel free to pass this article on to others.

And please, forward our newsletter to others you think might benefit from the Seishindo philosophy. Referrals from Seishindo community members is the main way we get to meet and serve new people.

In Community,
Charlie

2. Koans, paradox, and prayer

Do you know what a “koan” is?

Here’s what the dictionary has to say.

Koan (noun) A paradoxical anecdote or riddle that has no apparent rational solution or meaning. These anecdotes can though, be understood by the intuitive mind.

When practicing Zen, students are given koans to ponder. They’re meant to absorb themselves in the seeming paradox of a koan via meditation and everyday life, until such time that an “alternative truth” emerges. Koans are meant to help make clear, that at times the rational mind impedes the process of understanding.

One well known koan is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Since “koans” and “paradoxes” are so related, let’s also have a look at “paradox” in the dictionary.

Paradox (noun) A statement or proposition, that despite seemingly sound reasoning, leads to a conclusion that appears senseless or self-contradictory

For instance: “The slower you go, the sooner you’ll reach your destination.”

Now, let’s stretch a bit and see how the terms koan and paradox, relate to prayer.

Prayer (noun) ?The act of communicating with a deity (especially as a request for help, or in adoration, contrition, or thanksgiving.)

So far so good?

Are you wondering why I’m talking about koans, paradox and prayer in the same conversation?

Here’s a story that will hopefully make the direction of my thinking clear:

Mother Teresa was a Catholic nun who gave her life to helping the sick and poor of the world. She was interviewed countless times, and once she was questioned about how she prayed.

The interviewer asked, “Mother Teresa, when you pray, what do you say to God?”

Mother Teresa replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.”

Believing he had understood what she just said, the interviewer next asked, “Ah, then what is it God says to you when you pray?”

Mother Teresa replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.”

There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next.

Finally Mother Teresa broke the silence by saying, “Sorry, but if you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I won’t be able to explain it any better.”

To me, this story is a Christian koan!

In fact I think you can extract two koans from the wisdom of the Mother Teresa story.
The first koan is:
“How can you offer up a prayer to your concept of a “higher power” without talking?”

The second koan is:
“What does one attend to when praying, given that God doesn’t speak?”

Most every morning and evening, I take some time to communicate with my concept of “God”. I ask for help for myself and others, give thanks for my life, and acknowledge my many shortcomings and my inability to understand the true meaning of my life. In doing so I concede the inadequacy of my logical reasoning and attempt to temporarily render useless my cognitive mode of processing information, so that an “alternative reality” can emerge.

You see, for me, life is very much like a Zen koan. An absorbing paradox that has no apparent solution. In times of brief clarity I recognize that much of the time I don’t understand what is meant to happen and why, and I realize that my logical reasoning does not help me feel at peace with myself and in the world. When I pray I give my Zen koan over to God, realizing my cognitive mind on its own is not enough to fully understand and appreciate life.

From time to time,
And not directed by me

There are moments of utter stillness,
When nothing is said,
And yet everything is communicated and understood.

The blessings of life are given and received.
And all is just as it should be.
Nothing more, nothing less.

Ah, if only I did nothing more often!

Lessons learned from hard times

1. Introduction

Hi to all!

In my part of the world, the sun is shining a bit longer than it was a few weeks ago, and the temperature is rising in fits and spurts. All of this gives me hope, that indeed there will be another spring!

It’s my wish for all of you, that even in the coldest days of winter you’ll feel the call of spring in your heart.

In Community,
Charlie

2. Lessons learned from hard times

I have many fond memories of sitting in a small room in my wife’s grandmother’s house, sipping tea, and giving “obaachan” the space to say whatever was on her mind.

When I asked her about World War II here’s what she had to say.

“The death of loved ones, natural disasters, wars, and divorces. All of these events give us cause to stop and reflect on our lives.

World War II taught me a lot. It seems to me that in all wars, both sides tend to be correct in standing up for their values, and quite short-sighted in denying their shortcomings.

I think this is also true in personal relationships that aren’t going well. People fail to realize and acknowledge their own shortcomings, and this prevents them from recognizing there are always two people responsible for the failing.

When the war ended I was grateful to still be alive and I was ready to redirect my life. Having withstood the war I was pretty certain I could withstand everything life had to offer.

A lot of precious lives were lost and many people died at a very early age. The war broke my heart and caused me to reexamine everything I thought I knew. I was pretty certain my heart would break a few more times before I died, and I needed to take the time to better understand how life is full of suffering and joy, love and hate.

I found myself wondering what all the killing had accomplished. What truths had the war revealed? What lessons were to be learned by every Japanese person? Surely our culture needed to redirect itself, and I wondered how this would be accomplished, and if indeed it would be accomplished. Before the war life had a certain familiarity that felt comfortable. Up early every morning to start the day, and work well into the evening. All with a sense of an endless rhythm and flow, with one day leading to the next. By the end of the war, everything had been turned upside down. Everyone was so busy rebuilding shattered lives and attempting to make up for lost time, that few people took the time to sit and reflect.

I realized I was going to have to let go of great sadness in order to begin the next stage of my life. Having seen so many people die, I found it important to place the focus of my attention on the newborn babies in our neighborhood. Watching them grow, and flourish, under the gaze of a loving mother. Life was indeed continuing to spring forth and I knew it was important to focus on the positive.

The war led me to understand the world is being destroyed by the anger and resentment that is stirred up by our leaders. Beneath all the bad feelings lies a deep fear that is big enough to destroy all of life. When our fear, anger, and resentment overflows into war, it squeezes the love from our hearts and there are no winners. Only survivors.

God is the Spirit that lives within each of us and gives us life. Who we are, depends to a large extent on how we love. We need to nurture our fear and our anger with kindness, so that hope, health, and compassion will spring forth in each of us. Regardless of the country we were born in, or the values we hold dear.

There is a great deal of fear and anger in the world today. Please consider how you can nurture with kindness all those you meet and enter into relationship with.

Sediment

1. Introduction

The holidays will soon be upon us. I hope you take this time to slow down, and reflect on your many blessings. Potable water, ample food, and a roof over your head… if you have these things, please don’t take them for granted.

We have about 8,000 people subscribed to our newsletter, and still only a couple hundred folks subscribed to our blog. So I’m hoping more and more of you will find your way over to our blog community. If you log on and let me know what you’d like to see me address, I’ll do my best to satisfy you.

In Community,
Charlie

2. Sediment

What I did most days immediately after Aikido class, was write down whatever sensei said that caught my attention. I rarely wrote down the finer points of a technique, but instead I was drawn to the things sensei said that related to “something else”. After a while I created a notebook which I titled “Sediment”. Here’s some of what I wrote in that notebook more than 25 years ago.

Health will follow sickness, and happy will follow sad. All life is cyclical. When you’re able to keep this in mind you’ll be a lot less concerned by the seemingly bad things that occur in your life. Good balances bad, life balances death.

It’s important to believe in a truth that’s “bigger” than the one you construct in your head. It’s important to understand life is not all about “you”.

You’ll never be able to believe in anyone else or anything else, more than you’re able to believe in yourself. Indeed, if you believe you can’t you won’t.

All of life is offering you energy and this energy can be converted into fuel for living.
When you release all the muscles of your body and breathe freely, you’re much better able to take in the energy that’s available to you. This is the essence of high quality health. The more you hold on with the muscles of your body, the less oxygen you’re able to take in. The less you’re able to take in, the more you’ll believe in scarcity.

To a large extent, your body is the product of your thinking. What you think about and what you don’t, and what you believe in and what you don’t, determines your health and what you do and don’t get in life. Your thoughts have energy, Moving energy sustains life and blocked or excessive energy depletes your life force. Worry less and you’ll have more. Do less and you’ll achieve more.

Whatever you try to avoid or resist you tend to make stronger. That’s how virulent forms of disease got going in hospitals. Whatever the antibiotic doesn’t kill gets stronger, The more you talk and think about what you don’t want, the more you starve what you do want. Your thinking mind creates a thought field. Your thought field is an energy field, much like an electrical grid. Your energy field attracts certain kinds of energy and people while repelling others. What and how you think, determines who you become.

Your thinking mind determines the way you use your body and breathe. The way you use your body and breathe, determines your emotional state and overall health..

Your body, just like the body of a classical guitar, is a resonator. When you adopt an open balanced posture, you increase your capacity to resonate, and attract life sustaining energy.

The power that flows through you is limitless. The essence of who you are, is not constrained by time, space, or your thinking mind. If you are truly emotionally healthy, you will tend to be physically healthy. The opposite of this is equally true. Your emotional health and your physical health are in a constant, recursive conversation.

You are the creator of your entire experience of life. This includes your health, your happiness, and your relationships, Or the lack thereof.

Your system is designed to be self healing. Release all stressors and the body will heal itself. Stress is simply excess energy trapped in your body. This excess energy will search for a way to exit your system and be free. In an attempt to escape it will attack your weakest link and begin to break it down. Let your energy be free, and it will work with you and for you.

Old Japanese houses

1. Introduction

Hi, If you haven’t yet made your way over to the Seishindo Blog, please do so. Once there you’ll come across a new rich source of information. And you’re also invited to share your comments on what you read. Please come and help us build an ever more vibrant Seishindo community.

In Community,
Charlie

2. Old Japanese houses

About a month after arriving in Tokyo I began to share an old wooden house with a group of four other gaijin. With the house scheduled for demolition within two years time, the incredibly cheap rent we paid was a reflection of the poor condition of the house. Living in Tokyo and only paying $100 a month rent was something I never imagined could be possible!

During December and January it’s not unusual for the thermometer to dip below freezing in Tokyo, and I had my own way of checking the temperature on winter mornings. I pulled back the curtain and gauged the thickness of the ice on the single pane rattling window in my room. With no insulation and houses purposely designed to allow for a free flow of air, when it was cold outside you really knew it!

Another small winter inconvenience was the total lack of central heating. Central heating is a concept that has yet to warm the Japanese heart. I always chuckle when I’m outside Japan and someone remarks, “My goodness the Japanese have heated toilet seats. What an extravagance!” My usual reply being “With no heat in the hallways or toilet during winter, a heated seat is not nearly as extravagant as you might think!”

Nowadays housing has improved dramatically, but there’s still no central heating. “Back in the day” most people had kerosene space heaters warming various rooms in their house. This was not a solution anyone cared for, but in old wooden houses electric heaters were considered too dangerous.

Our house had four tiny bedrooms on the second floor. My bedroom measured 5ft.(150cm) X 9ft.(270cm). I was thankful to not have many possessions at the time.

We had one very small room with a porcelain squat toilet, and getting to do numerous deep knee bends a day, helped all of us stay in good shape.

No one had to wait in line in the morning to brush their teeth, because we didn’t have a bathroom sink. We brushed our teeth in the kitchen. The same room we took a shower in.

You see, with the house not having a shower when first built, previous tenants had made their own. There was a door in the kitchen leading out to a tiny back yard. The entry way by the door was about 2 ft.(60cm) square, and about 6 inches (15cm.) lower than the main floor of the kitchen. This area is the place where you’re meant to take off your shoes when entering. In our house this space was magically transformed into a shower stall! You turned on the water like when washing dishes, and then rotated a cutoff valve to send water up around and over to a makeshift shower head attached to the wall just above the door. Since there wasn’t any drain, what you’d do was shower until the water built up and was about to overflow onto the kitchen floor. Then you’d open the door and sweep the water outside with a small broom.

As I was taking a shower one winter evening the kerosene delivery man came round to the back of the house to deliver fuel. He knocked once on the kitchen door and opened it without waiting for a reply. There I stood with my hair all lathered up and my eyes closed to keep the soap out. I can’t tell you who was more surprised, but I can tell you he never entered our house again unless he heard one of us clearly invite him in!

Such was my early life in Japan. Simple, adventurous, and filled with many surprises.

Pain, and the mind of an undisciplined child

1. Introduction

Little by little, more and more of you are migrating over to a second source of sustenance and support- The Seishindo Blog. Come on over and read short posts that are separate and distinct from the newsletter. And beyond that, you’re welcomed to comment on what you read and share your thoughts with the rest of the Seishindo community. Ya’ll come!

In Community,
Charlie

2. Pain, and the mind of an undisciplined child

In Aikido we strive to find ways to leave our habits behind and experience the world from a “simple mind” perspective. A task that is much easier said than done.

We do things like sitting in seiza for an hour at a time. With our legs folded underneath us it doesn’t take but five or ten minutes before we start feeling pain in our legs and knees.

After twenty minutes the pain is excruciating, and we’re quite sure we won’t be able to withstand it for more than another minute or two.

After thirty minutes the pain has completely subsided and we feel at ease.

Not to worry though, as this feeling will not last.

After forty minutes the pain has returned with a vengeance!

After fifty minutes we begin to feel blissful and praise ourselves for having gone through whatever it takes to cross over to the promised land!

“Such is your everyday mind.” sensei would say. “One moment you feel life couldn’t be worse, and the next moment you can’t even remember what your pain was all about. You make it all up, the good and the bad, and your experience has little if anything to do with reality.”

“Indeed,” he would say, “When you sit seiza, doesn’t it become clear that the pain is in your head, and not in your legs? Or actually, it’s more accurate to say you manufacture the pain in your head with just a little bit of input from your legs.”

“And why is it,” sensei would ask, “That no matter how hard you try, you can’t make the pain go away? Yet at some point without any directions from ‘you’, all of a sudden the pain is gone! Doesn’t that make you feel a bit foolish?”

“Tell the pain to go away, order it to go away, and it says ‘No thank you.’ But then at some point, and you never seem to know when or how, all of a sudden with a mind of its own, the pain disappears. If you learned to control your thinking mind, then you would also learn to control your pain.”

“The longer you study, the more I hope you’ll realize ‘reality’ is a very slippery concept to grasp. The more you study the more you’ll realize you don’t understand what ‘reality’ is. Or perhaps it’s better to say, you’ll come to realize that reality is an illusion.”

“You see, ‘reality’ and ‘pain’ are very much alike. Both are just figments of your imagination. Inventions of your thinking mind. Do you realize for instance, that when you look at and make sense out of something, 10% of the information comes from your eyes, and 90% of the information is made up inside your head. And that’s not just my opinion, my reality, that’s what research scientists say after many years of study.”

“Part of the reason why I sometimes have you sit seiza for long periods of time, is because I want you to realize your thinking mind is like an undisciplined child. The undisciplined child cries and cries for what he or she wants, and then once they are clear they aren’t going to get what they want, the child finally shuts up, and usually falls asleep shortly thereafter.”

“When we sit seiza I see most of you are crying out inside yourself. Some of you actually give up, get up, and go home. But if you stay, at some point you realize you’re not going to get what you want by crying. When you finally stop crying and accept what is, the pain you’ve manufactured inside your head goes away, and you get what you’ve been wanting after all! Such is life. Cry less, and try less, and you’ll get much more!”

Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy

1. Introduction

I’m wanting to let you know again, that our new website is up and running, and waiting for YOU!

I encourage you to have a look at my new blog.

In my blog posts I tend to talk about Seishindo related theory that interests me, and the blog posts are totally different content from the newsletter. Please go and look around and if you find something interesting, please sign-up for the blog so you can receive my future blog posts.

It would also be great if you comment on any of the articles or blog posts you read on the site. I am hoping the new site will offer an excellent way to further strengthen and serve the Seishindo community

In Community,
Charlie

2. Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy

It was Friday night and the class was full. Over in the far right corner of the dojo two students were giving each other a hard time and I knew this was going to upset sensei. Sure enough he growled at them a couple times telling them to lighten up, but if anything they only became more aggressive. Finally sensei had had enough and he called the class to a halt.

“Go to the front of the room,” sensei said to the two aggressive students. “I want you to perform for the class.” Once they got there sensei turned to the rest of us, gave a wink, and said “Now let’s see which one of them is better than the other.” He then told them to perform a specific sequence of moves.

Immediately, it looked like they were involved in a mud wrestling contest rather than Aikido. Both of them moved awkwardly, neither one of them had good footing, and it was hard to discern who was the attacker and who the defender.

After a couple minutes of watching, sensei told them to stop and sit, as he moved to the front of the room. “There are so many things wrong here it’s hard to know where to begin,” he said. “The two of you perform as if you’re identical twins. You look alike and have the same bad habits. I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me you grew up in the same household.”

“The first point that sticks out is that both of you act like righteous victims. Acting as if you’re better or more correct than the one who’s attacking you. With the mind of a victim, you’re focused on getting attacked, rather than correctly focusing on nothing in particular. As I’ve tried to tell you many times before, whatever you focus on you give energy to and make stronger. So with your focus on the attack, you make the attacker stronger than he’d normally be. Needless to say this leads to your self fulfilling prophecy of performing poorly.”

“Next,” sensei said, “Convinced you’re not as good as you think you should be, you set about proving your various dojo partners are even worse. When attacking neither one of you attack correctly. In fact you both usually do the opposite of what you’re supposed to do. When a specific technique calls for the attacker to overextend themselves by leaning forward, both of you under extend and wind up leaning backwards. This makes the called for response to the attack more or less impossible to perform. You’re not proving the incompetence of your partner, you’re only proving how foolish you are.”

“The last point I want to make for today is the following. It’s amazing and sad to watch how strongly both of you critique each other, while at the same time neither one of you seems to have the ability to properly critique yourself. You each strive to increase your self image, by demonstrating how much more you know in comparison to your partner. You both have a strong desire to prove the other person wrong, as a way of proving yourself right. This leads me to understand both of you have little self confidence, and low self esteem. Not only aren’t either one of you learning anything by practicing, you’re instead strengthening the bad habits and lack of self-confidence you both had when first entering the dojo. I ask you now to bow and apologize to each other, bow and apologize to the entire class, and then please leave. Don’t bother to come back again unless you’re ready to change your beliefs and cooperate.”

Learning how to learn

1. Introduction

Our new site is up and running, and growing and evolving every day!
My hope is that you’ll come and have a look, AND sign-up for our new Blog while you’re on the site. The Blog will present content that is separate from anything I write for this newsletter. Somatic theory, an occasional rant or two, articles and or videos from others, AND most important, the capacity for all of you to comment on our offerings and create a stronger Seishindo community. One of the posts I’ve already made, is asking what YOU would like to discuss via our blog. So please do come and visit!

Charlie

2. Learning how to learn

The more I absorbed the teaching of my Aikdio sensei Koichi Tohei, the more I realized I needed to adopt a different style of learning.

Tohei sensei is charismatic and spontaneous when he teaches and sometimes he would get a bit frustrated watching students attempting to write down his every word. Once he playfully said to a student, “Perhaps you should read my book before coming to class again, then you won’t need to take so many notes!” And guess what? The student actually wrote down those words!

“The reason for coming to class,” Tohei sensei would say, “Is not to take notes. The reason for coming to class is to learn how to trust the intelligence of your body. In Aikido you have the opportunity to learn with your body, while your thinking mind acts as a passive observer. Notice what happens at such times. Do you fall into a pit of internal dialogue and hesitancy, or do you perform with confidence?”

“If you want to begin a process of transformation, you’ll need to push past the barriers of your thinking mind. You’ll need to have a sudden, and perhaps unexpected experience, and then allow your learning to gestate over time. An understanding of what you learn with your sudden experience can only come later. Much later. So you better become comfortable with not knowing, and not understanding, while remaining confident you are indeed learning.”

“You see,” he would sometimes say, “People rely too much on their rational mind, and don’t believe they’re learning unless they immediately comprehend what they’ve learned. I think you foreigners use the term â??He’s in his head’ to show that a person does not fully comprehend what’s happening.”

“You, for instance,” Tohei sensei said while motioning towards one student, “You’ve been in Japan for a few months now, and you’ve learned the words for “good morning”, The problem is you don’t bow when you speak these words, so the meaning of your greeting is not received by others. I think this is because you were so busy writing down the words you didn’t even notice the bowing. You were too busy being in your head. No matter what the topic, if you don’t learn with your body as well as with your thinking mind, your learning will have little value.”

“Many of you ask me over and over again to further explain what I’ve just said. I on the other hand believe that additional explanations tend to lead toward additional confusion. You want to learn first with your head, and practice only after you’ve understood. This is exactly backwards to the learning process I’m suggesting. You need to trust that your body is indeed intelligent, and that you are indeed learning, even though your rational mind has yet to make sense out of what you’re doing. All of the talking and note taking you want to do winds up confusing you and makes your learning process more difficult than it needs to be.

“Learn with your body and then practice over and over again. Through practice you’ll refine and come to understand what you’ve learned. Your Aikido practice is like what happens when writing a book. The author writes a first draft of a chapter, and then edits it nine times or more. That is one cycle of writing. In the dojo, you learn something new and then practice it ninety-nine times. This is one cycle of learning.”

“There’s a time for putting down your notes, and for most of you I’d say that time is right now. If you truly want to improve your ability to learn, you’ll need to think less, and do more.”

Endless Determination

1. Introduction

Within the next day or two we’ll be launching a completely new website. It’s taken a lot of hard work and I hope you’ll be pleased with the results. Once we do launch I’ll be sending you an announcement letting you know. The new site has a Blog function which will allow you to comment on various aspects of Seishindo, and I invite you to do just that!

In community,
Charlie

2. Endless Determination

Recently someone asked what led me to Japan in the first place. I replied that there was something about the spirit of Aikido and the austere sense of aesthetics in all the Japanese arts that fascinated me. I thought some more about this after going home and I remembered the fragments of a story I’d heard as a young man….

Many, many years ago Kazu and Hiro were two young boys growing up on the outskirts of Kyoto, and they both loved the art of Japanese archery known as kyudo. While in high school they practiced as much as they could.

Upon graduating Kazu had to quit so he could work in his family’s business, making the protective armor worn by samurai during battle. The armor was heavily padded and Kazu joined the pieces together with a sewing machine that had a large wheel used to position the thick needle in the correct location for piercing the fabric. The job was physically demanding and dangerous. If Kazu’s mind wandered for just a moment, he could easily pierce his hand instead of the fabric.

Hiro, as the youngest of three boys had little in the way of family commitments. So he offered himself up as an apprentice to a renowned kyudo master. He eventually became known as one of the best archers in all of Japan.

When both boys had ripened to become men in their fifties, the Emperor declared a nationwide competition to honor the role and importance of Japan’s many fine archers. On his way to the competition Hiro stopped by to see his childhood friend Kazu. He told his friend about the upcoming event, and Kazu sheepishly asked if he could enter the competition being introduced as Hiro’s student. Although Hiro thought the proposal somewhat foolish, because of their strong friendship in the past he agreed to bring Kazu along.

With all the masters and their many students present, people were expecting a great display of prowess. With two arrows to shoot, whoever pierced the target twice, would be given a sizeable quantity of gold and a large plot of land. To everyone’s surprise though, the target was placed at twice the distance of their everyday practice!

With the target positioned much farther away than usual, one master after another failed to hit the target with both arrows. Finally with every master having missed the mark their students were given the opportunity to shoot. In the minds of everyone there, the competition was all but over.

With no official ranking, Kazu was the very last person with a chance to shoot and win the prize. He gathered his spirit, let loose his arrows, and both flew straight and sure piercing the target. Everyone in attendance was speechless as the emperor presented Kazu with his lavish reward.

With the ceremony over Hiro rushed over to Kazu and asked, “After all these years with no practice, how in the world did you manage to hit the target both times?”

â??Well,” Kazu replied, “As an artisan, countless times a day I aimed to pierce the heavy fabric in just the right spot. I imagined my needle was my arrow, and I must say I hit the target each and every time! Today was no different.”

“You see, whether it’s been kyudo or work, I’ve always been aiming at the same target. Myself. In the course of my mundane life I had endless determination and never gave up my dream of fulfilling my true potential. It was this determination that carried the arrows to the target today.”

Stalking the truth

1. Introduction

Well, the heat has finally broken! Hooray!
Off and on for the last several days we’ve had some strong rain, and initially it was like running cold water on a hot frying pan.

In a few months time I’ll likely be complaining about the cold! :- )

In community,
Charlie

2. Stalking the truth

After five years, another gaijin finally moved into my apartment building. Turns out Jim’s a New York City boy just like me! Wow, what could be better!

Coincidentally, Jim also likes to cook for a hobby, and soon after moving in he invited some newly met Japanese friends over for dinner. I was present to be his ally and translator, as he had only been in Tokyo for less than a month and spoke very little Japanese.

Jim planned on serving a number of different courses on small plates, along with a different wine for each course. But by the time his guests had the chance to sample his second offering, it was clear they weren’t enjoying the food. They were taking small forkfuls and washing most bites down with a bit of wine.

Jim had the same feeling as me, and being a true to heart New Yorker he asked me to ask what they thought of his food. I realized such a direct question would only put his friends on the spot, so instead, I said,
“Ah yes, this food is good. It very much reminds me of being in New York. Isn’t it great?”
To which everyone mumbled a polite “Oh yes, everything is great!”

“But” I said in somewhat of a loud voice, while pausing to add a bit of drama, “If a Japanese person knew all the basic ingredients I’m sure they’d make this dish differently. Am I correct?”

You see I knew Jim’s guests weren’t going to disagree with someone they had just met, because that would be impolite. In particular, they wouldn’t want to chance insulting the friend of a friend. If faced with the lesser of two evils, it would be less impolite for them to lightly critique Jim’s cooking.

Several of the guests were already nodding their head “Yes” to my question, as they looked around. Each one visually imploring the others to make a comment. After a few seconds of awkward silence Watanabe-san gathered up her courage and jumped into the fray.

“Well” she said, “This dish is very good, and that’s for sure. I have no idea how to cook foreign food so I’m very hesitant to offer any further opinion.” She took a sip of her wine and looked around at her Japanese comrades. I wasn’t sure if she was waiting for someone else to jump in, or if she was simply gathering her courage and her thoughts.

Finally she said, “Well, knowing nothing about foreign cooking, I’m guessing the average Japanese would add a bit more salt and a bit less hot sauce, even if doing so would ruin the taste.”

“What did she say?” Jim immediately asked.

“Pour a bit more wine and I’ll take up the dishes,” I said, “and then I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

By the time he made it to the kitchen Jim was clearly frustrated and asked “Why couldn’t you just tell me what she said?”

“Because” I offered, “If I had done so, everyone would have been embarrassed. The good news is everyone likes the basic taste of the food. The even better news is, now you know what to do with the rest of the meal you’re preparing. Add some salt, and do away with the chilli peppers.”

“My goodness,” Jim said, “Why couldn’t they just tell me the truth?!”

“Because” I replied, “They realize there is no truth to be told, but only their opinion. When faced with a choice, they’d prefer to endure the food rather than risk damaging the relationship.”

“Welcome to Japan!”

The power of culture

1. Introduction

We are having a record heat wave here in Tokyo. Supposed to be the hottest August ever!
“Slow down, you’re going to fast……”

This week’s story is linked to the story in my last newsletter.

In community,
Charlie

2. The power of culture

I ran some errands after my meeting with my two lady friends, and by the time I got home Okada-san had already left a phone message. She said Shimoda-san was feeling unsettled and wanted to further explain some of what she had said. It was suggested it could be a good idea to meet for dinner tomorrow evening, so the three of us could talk at length.

When I arrived at Okada-san’s house, she greeted me with a look that made me feel like a door to door salesman. Her face held little sign of her feelings, and the usual twinkle was gone from her eyes. I stepped in and saw Shimoda-san sitting in seiza by the low dining room table. She bowed deeply several times while expressing her thanks for my finding the time to come. She had a mask of worry and sorrow on her face, and I felt sad to see her looking so dark.

As I sat down at the table I playfully said, “I’m guessing our conversation will take more than one cup of tea to complete. What’s on the menu?”

Thankfully, Okada-san took my lead and replied, “Well being that it’s evening and so hot outside, wouldn’t we do better with a small glass of chilled sake?”

It wasn’t the alcohol I was after. Rather, I wanted to change the atmosphere some, so we could begin our conversation from a more cheerful place.

The sake was served, and after we lifted our glasses and said “Campai!” Shimoda-san began to share what was on her mind.

“I started feeling a lot of shame and guilt after our conversation.” she said.
“At first I thought it was because I’d spoken unkind words about the people I lived and worked with for so many years. In this regard I felt like a traitor. Like I had literally exposed their dirty laundry in public.”

“But soon,” she said, “I began to realize I was mostly upset because of what I had taught my children.”
“You see, just like my mother, and my husband’s mother, I taught my children that the role of women was to serve men.”
“I didn’t want to be teaching them this, and I wasn’t even aware until yesterday that I had been teaching them this. But after reflecting on our conversation I realized I had taught my children the very principles I was claiming to be so strongly against.”

“I had two boys and two girls, and I clearly taught my daughters to serve their brothers and bring them tea and snacks when they asked. But I never taught the boys to do anything at all for their sisters. Except perhaps, my sometimes telling them to not be so harsh when their sisters were slow to serve them!”

“Today I purposefully went over to the house of one of my daughters. While I was there I got my grandson to serve his younger sister and myself some snacks. I could see my daughter in the next room, and she looked somewhat surprised.”

“When the children went out to play I called my daughter near and we had a wonderful heartfelt conversation. I apologized for not always being the best teacher, the best mother, and we had a bit of a cry and a good laugh as well.”

“Even now, I’m sitting here wondering how in the world I taught my children something I don’t believe in. It’s all quite mysterious how I as a woman, taught my children that women should subjugate their lives to men. I never before realized what a strong hold my culture has on my very soul.”

Love and Marriage, Revisited

1. Introduction

My daughter’s in Australia for the next two weeks, so I guess this time around I’ll wish all my friends in the southern hemisphere, a mild and refreshing winter!

Except for during the summer, I’m not usually a big fan of winter. But I wouldn’t mind a tiny bit of winter right now!

In community,
Charlie

2. Love and Marriage, Revisited

I saw Okada-san again today, and it turns out she’s been telling some of her friends about our conversations. She’s elevated our time together to the realm of “interviews” and apparently she has a couple of friends who would love to tell their story. It doesn’t take but a moment to agree on meeting her friend Shimoda-san the next day.

I arrive at our favorite coffee shop to find the two ladies already there. Okada-san handles the introductions, telling her friend I’m kind and gentle, and that she should feel free to speak her mind. Shimoda-san bows profusely as she apologizes for taking up my time. “At 85 years old,” she wonders aloud, “Do I really want to hear from such an older woman?” When I tell her that at 62 I’m not so young myself, she places her hand over her mouth in shyness, and tells me I’m two years younger than her youngest child.

It takes a few minutes for Shimoda-san to settle in, but once she does, she really gets going!

“Like Okada-san,” she says, “The first time I met my husband to be was when both families got together to discuss the details of the wedding reception. Not only was my opinion not asked for, but they spoke as if I wasn’t even in the room. I was just 19 years old, and young girls weren’t meant to have opinions. Even if the topic at hand was their forthcoming marriage. My mother had already told me her and my father had picked a suitable husband for me, and that I should not be selfish. That my marriage would benefit both families.”

“I have no idea what my mother meant with such words.” Shimoda-san said. “I say this because still to this day, I feel that I was given over to my husband’s family more so as a slave, than as a wife. And my parents didn’t even receive any payment in return!”

“Excuse me if I sound harsh.” Shimoda-san said. “I don’t want to appear selfish or negative, but it’s important you understand my circumstances. I was 19 when I married and my husband was 24. He was already an alcoholic, and as the oldest son in his family he was used to always getting his own way.”

Beyond my husband’s bad habits, his family owned a restaurant in a very busy tourist area, and the restaurant was open 360 days a year. This was the life I was thrust into. Working seven days a week, fifty one weeks of the year, and having a five day vacation once a year in August.”

“If this isn’t slavery,” she said, “Then please tell me what is. I worked for the family business a minimum of twelve hours a day, seven days a week, while bearing and raising four children. I don’t have the words to describe how challenging my life was. Being on my feet for hours and hours every day, while being pregnant, and sometimes carrying my younger child on my back. There’s nothing worse than being eight months pregnant in August in Tokyo, with the temperature at 90 degrees, and the humidity at 90%.”

“Maybe the worst part of it was,” Shimoda-san said as she wiped some moisture from her eyes, “That neither my husband nor anyone in his family appeared to care. Everyone just seemed to assume I would do whatever was necessary, with no regard for my pain and suffering. With no regard for my feelings.”

“My husband passed away twenty years ago from cirrhosis of the liver. Since then I’ve been making donations to various organizations working to help women in third world countries. In this way I hope my suffering has not been in vain.”

Everyday mind and relativity

1. Introduction

“Hot down, summer in the city…” and the heat is upon us!
I hope you’re finding many different ways to stay cool.

As much as today’s story is for all of you in the Seishindo community, I would like to especially offer it to my new friend Bjorn.

Warmly,
Charlie

2. Everyday mind and relativity

In Aikido we strive to experience the world from a “simple mind” perspective. A task that is much easier said than done!

We do things like sitting in seiza for an hour at a time. With our legs folded underneath us it doesn’t take but five minutes before we start feeling pain in our legs and knees.

After twenty minutes the pain is excruciating, and we’re quite certain we won’t be able to withstand it for more than another minute, or two at most.

After thirty minutes the pain has completely subsided and we feel at ease.

Not to worry though, as this feeling won’t last!
After forty minutes the pain has returned and is worse than before.

After fifty minutes we begin to feel blissful, and praise ourselves for having gone through whatever it takes to cross over to the promised land!

“Such is your everyday mind.” sensei would say. “One moment you feel life couldn’t be worse, and the next moment you can’t remember what your pain was all about. You make it all up, the good and the bad, and your experience has little if anything to do with reality.”

“In fact” he would say, “The more you study, the more you realize the term ‘reality’ is a very slippery concept to grasp a hold of. The more you study the more you realize ‘reality’ is whatever you make it out to be.”

“Rather than trying to define reality, I think we can better spend our time studying relativity.” sensei said.

“By exploring how each thing, each thought, each feeling, is relative to all the rest of our experience, we can learn a great deal. Relativity teaches us there’s always more than one perspective, always more than one belief, always more than one understanding, in regard to any one single person or event.”

“The famous scientist Einstein, talked about placing his hand on a hot stove for one minute, and how that minute felt more like an hour. He then talked about sitting with a pretty girl for an hour, and how that hour seemed to pass so quickly.”

“What he describes is very much like the experience of sitting seiza, with our minutes of pain feeling like hours, and our minutes of pleasure, feeling all too short. We manipulate and distort time, and our sense of connection with or separation from, the rest of life.”

“A human being is one infinitesimal part of an infinitely large universe. A tiny, tiny, something, limited in time and space. When we feel ourselves separate from the rest of life, our pain and suffering increases, along with our distortion of time. When we feel ourselves connected, everything is just as it should be.”

“When I have you sit seiza, I always start by taking down the clock at the back of the dojo. What never ceases to intrigue me, is how many of you over and over again look back for the non-existent clock. With your sense of pain, pleasure, and time so distorted, I wonder what information you’re hoping the clock will provide.”

“Our belief in and dependence on time, creates a kind of prison that restricts our ability to fully live and experience life. In the course of your study it’s my hope that you’ll begin to free yourselves from this prison, and experience how you share your life, your pain, your pleasure, and your love, with all the rest of the universe. The more you can realize you’re not alone, not separate, the more you’ll realize just how fleeting every moment is. Both the pleasure, and the pain. It’s all to be experienced, appreciated, and then let go, so you’ll be ready for the next experience.”

Mama

1. Introduction

“Summer, and the living is easy.” I’ve always wondered who coined that phrase!
Tokyo hasn’t really warmed up yet, but some of my friends in other locations are telling me about temperatures that are 100?/38? and above. In such conditions, “living easy” is an art form I am still a novice at.

Whether or not it gets really hot where you are, please slow down and take it easy. In Seishindo we say, “the slower you go, the sooner you’ll reach your destination.”

Warmly,
Charlie

2. Mama

If I’m going out at night, I very much prefer the back alleys and small streets in Tokyo. My favorite establishments fit a maximum of ten customers, with a mama-san presiding. It’s all very personal and up close, and each place has its own cast of characters.

I love the shops run by mama-sans because I’m fascinated to watch these ladies take charge in a man’s world. It’s a man’s world at night because very few Japanese men take their wives out for entertainment, and very few women would walk into an old fashioned drinking establishment on their own.

One of my all time favorite mamas is Kaoru-san, and one night when I was the only customer, I asked her to tell me why ladies such as her are known as mama.

She smiled warmly and said “Oh Charlie-san, I love knowing what you think about, and I’m always happy to answer your questions, as long as you don’t ask me how old I am.”
We both had a chuckle, and then she began her lesson.

“Well” she said, “Most every mama, whether a mother or a shopkeeper like me, knows two important things about men.”

“The first thing to know is, most every man is still a boy at heart. Because of this they enjoy telling dirty jokes and saying things to lightly shock or embarrass a woman. For instance, it’s easy for everyone to see I’m small breasted,” she said as she cupped her hands around her modest breasts, “And yet many of my customers at some point tell me what great breasts I have. They’re thrilled to be able to say such a thing without being severely scolded, and they’re very much hoping what they say will fluster me.”
“But I don’t scold them, and I don’t get flustered, and in a way I think this might leave some of them ever so much disappointed.”

“The other thing to know is, men want to be loved even when they’ve been naughty and displayed bad manners.”
“In fact it might be more accurate to say, men especially want to be shown they’re loved, after they’ve behaved badly.”

“The few times I do get angry and let a customer know he’s gone too far, it’s likely he’ll bring me a small gift the next time he comes in, as a way of saying he’s sorry. When they do this, I might make them a special dish, to let them know they’re still part of the family.”

“They call me mama because just like their real mothers I do my best to cater to their needs. If a certain customer comes in every Wednesday night and they like mackerel, then I do my best to have mackerel on the menu every Wednesday. If fried eggplant is what someone loves and I don’t have any eggplant on hand, if it’s not busy I’ll run out and buy some. Just like their own mother might have done when they were a child. You see, in running a small shop like this, making money isn’t what’s important. What’s important is that my customers and I depend on each other, and the relationship we have can be quite special. I strive to have my customers feel at home, so they’ll want to come back again. That’s why I call out the same greeting when they enter, as their mother used to call out when they came back from school.”

“I still remember the first night you came into my small shop,” Kaoru said, “I’ll admit now that I was a bit frightened. I hadn’t ever served a foreigner before and I wasn’t sure how you’d react to my simple offerings. I’m so glad that over the years we’ve come to be good friends.”

The benefits of working

1. Introduction

Hi to all,
It’s getting rather hot here in Tokyo, which offers many lessons in learning how to slow down. As we like to say in Seishindo, “The slower you go, the sooner you’ll reach your destination.”

Please take this time to slow down and enjoy life.

Warmly,
Charlie

2. The benefits of working

Older Japanese people have a deep respect for work that has always touched me and made me think. They believe a person receives many benefits from working, the least of which is money.

There are a husband and wife in their seventies that have a lovely restaurant in my neighborhood. The wife is a fantastic cook and she and her husband are always friendly and kind. I asked them recently if they had done any thinking about retiring, and it was as if I had spoken a naughty word.

“Oh my goodness,” the husband said, “What would we do if we retired?” “We have made many friends by serving our neighbors through the years, and we would both be very sad to not see them any more.”

“Yes indeed,” the wife said, “Losing touch with our customers would be sad.” “But the other thing,” she said, “The more important thing, is that we would lose our opportunity to be of service to the people in our community. The reason for having this restaurant has never been simply as a means to make money. The most important reason for our having this restaurant, and perhaps the most important reason for having any job, is to be of service to the people of your community. It gives you the opportunity to not be selfish, and to do something for others. There’s no finer activity in life than serving others!”

I smiled and nodded my head, and felt blessed to know these two fine people.

“You know Tabata-san who often comes here for lunch,” the wife said. She’s the janitor for the local community center. Her biggest enjoyment at work is keeping the toilets spotlessly clean. She has talked about this more than once. She strives to keep the toilets so clean that everyone feels ‘at home’ when needing to use them. She takes great pride in providing this service.”

“How about Shimizu-san the husband said.” “He came in second in the window washing competition our local area has started to have, and there was a big party here afterwards to celebrate. He takes great pride in his job, and hopes his son will some day follow in his footsteps.”

“Whatever one does, I think it’s important to do it well,” the wife chipped in. “To do your job to the best of your ability. When you do this you feel good about what you’re doing and thus you feel good about yourself. Usually, as an extra added bonus people will compliment you on a job well done, and that leaves you with a smile on your face and feeling very satisfied.”

“With all the benefits I get by working, perhaps it’s a selfish activity after all,” the wife said with a twinkle in her eyes. “It really helps me to stay young and healthy, by getting up early in the morning knowing I have somewhere to go, and something meaningful to do. Much better than staying home and using my next doctor’s appointment as an excuse to get out of the house. When my first customer of the day comes in and I bow and say “Welcome!” I know there’s still a reason why I’m alive.”

“Without good service, the world would be a very lonely place,” the husband said. “The basis for good service is respecting others. The basis for respecting others, is being thankful for all you have. I would love to have the opportunity to serve a meal to the leaders of North Korea. I would say, ‘Please sit and enjoy yourselves. I will do my very best to serve you well.’ Regardless of the political outcome, I know on some level my message would be felt!”

Punishment, and the concept of “right or wrong”

1. Introduction

I hope that many of you are enjoying the World Cup. I got interested in “football” for the first time during the last World Cup, and was very impressed with the intelligence, creativity, toughness, and stamina necessary to perform at a high level.

May the best team win!

Regards,
Charlie

p.s. Will someone please write and tell me who the best team is!

2. Punishment, and the concept of “right or wrong”

A lot of the best learning I received as an Aikido student came when we were outside of the dojo with sensei. We could be having a cup of coffee, or occasionally having a drink, and at some point it would become clear sensei had a message to deliver.

Once we were sitting in a coffee shop waiting for a train in the countryside.
Seemingly out of nowhere, sensei said, “I think there are many people in the world who act in a confrontational manner, and thus I wish more people understood the Aikido principle of non-dissension.”

“Instead of spending so much time and so many human lives quarreling over who is right and who is wrong, I think the world would be a better place if we spent more time exploring how both sides are both right and wrong.”

Myself, and the other two students sat there and said very little, knowing sensei was just beginning to get warmed up.

“You see,” sensei said, “In Aikido we learn to refrain from engaging in confrontation, but that does not mean we shy away from protecting ourselves. It always intrigues me when new students attend a class and ask, ‘How can Aikido really be a martial art if you don’t attack or retaliate against your opponents.’ By this time the three of you have heard my reply many times over. In Aikido we have no attack form because we have no desire or intention to harm our adversaries. Instead we strive to bring hostilities to a conclusion that is respectful of all involved.”

“If my opponent has never harmed me, never struck me, never hurt me, then why would I want to hurt or punish him? Do I want to punish him simply because he has thought about hurting me, or because he has made a weak effort that was easily rebuffed? You see, even in a court of law, you can’t charge someone with murder simply because they thought about murdering someone. Attempted murder and actual murder are two very different crimes. When I am relaxed, aware, and fully present in the moment, then my adversary will have little opportunity to successfully attack me. Since he hasn’t hurt me, since he hasn’t truly threatened me, I have little desire to punish him in any way. His own thoughts, and the negative results he achieves in the world will be punishment enough.”

“Related to punishing someone, is the idea of someone or something being either right or wrong. In Aikido, we learn to refrain from believing one path, or one way of thinking, is inherently superior to another. We also learn to refrain from engaging in thinking that any one point of view is the opposite of others.”

“When we think in terms of opposites and disagree with someone else’s opinion, we begin to oppose the other person’s point of view. And this is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to resisting, combat, antagonism, and an overall disrespect for our perceived adversary.”

“In Aikido, we do not attack, but we also do not concede or give up. In every day life the same can be true. Without attacking the viewpoint of others, without conceding or giving up our own viewpoint, we can still maintain ourselves, and continue to act in a way that is consistent with our beliefs.”

“Keep that in mind,” sensei said as he looked across the table. “More than once I’ve heard you arguing with other students, trying to prove your viewpoint was more correct than theirs. When you act like that, not only will you fail to convince them that you are right, and they are wrong, you’ll also wind up losing them as friends and allies.”