Tag Archives: anger management

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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How to forgive someone

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Life ToolsWe talk about how to forgive someone who has wronged you in the past. Moreover, we will talk about how to use Positive Intention to understand the potential reasons why this person did what they did, and how to the concept of positive intention to let go of your resentment towards that other person. In the Seishindo way of thinking, holding resentment towards someone really doesn’t help us in our daily lives and can actually be detrimental in living a healthy and positive lifestyle.

Show Notes:

Episode Outline:

Caveats:

  • Using this tool will not necessarily require that you make a statement of forgiveness.
  • We assume that you have some form of personal relationship with the other person.
  • You might not find that each and every question in this tool speaks directly to your experience.

Steps:

  1. Name how you were wronged in as simple a manner as possible.
  2. Name and note the positive qualities of the person you have resentment towards.
  3. Ask yourself what the positive intention of the other person might have been when they wronged you.
  4. Consider if you might have done something to make the wrongful action by the other person all the more likely.
  5. Ask yourself: “Does my continued resentment towards the other person add to the overall quality of my life or detract from the overall quality of my life?”
  6. Ask yourself: “Does remaining resentful in some way keep you tied to a limiting version of the past where you feel like a victim? Does maintaining your resentment make it less likely that you will have the future you truly desire?”
  7. Ask yourself: “What benefits have accrued to me because of my experience with this other person?”
  8. Ask yourself: “Deep down, in my heart of hearts, would I not like to have a better relationship with this other person?”
  9. Ask yourself: “What if as a totally selfish act, done simply for my own personal happiness, I decided to go ahead and let go of the resentment I have towards the person that wronged you? What will I actually do to go ahead and forgive them?”

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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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Creating 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 were 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, you energize and strengthen whatever you focus on. 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 attacks 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 that both of you have little self-confidence, and low self-esteem. Not only is neither 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 mindset and cooperate.”

The Mind of Aikido and Water

While in Japan I’ve had the opportunity of meeting many exceptional people. One of those was Senta Yamada, whom I met for the first time when visiting a friend.

Uncharacteristically for a Japanese person, Yamada Sensei moved his hands a lot as he spoke. He did this to portray his perception of the movements essential to what he called the “mind” of Aikido and water, whose relationship he explained as follows:

While you sit there, please breathe freely and move your body slightly, so that 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. In Aikido we strive to embody this same intelligence.

We direct the flow of our energy so that it accords with that of others. When encountering those appearing angry and frightened, we make special effort 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, receding. Living, dying, recycling.

Water expands and contracts depending on circumstances, and the same is true of the human spirit.

When you are harsh to a child, his or her spirit contracts.

When you love a child, his or her spirit expands.

The presence of water throughout our ecosystem is similar to the presence of fluids in the body, enveloping and uniting its cells and tissues.

The mind of water, the body’s circulatory system, and Aikido all have the same intention—to 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 … ever moving towards center until the time of renewal.

Regardless of the obstacles it encounters, 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, consolidating its power until it is time to rise up again.

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 their 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 constant mind of 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.

Seishindo Anger Management – say both “Yes” and “No” (Video)

I have spent years studying and teaching Aikido, and along the way I have gleaned a lot of valuable information regarding managing anger. In this video, I share some of my learnings with you. I talk about how to slow down and be more present, the “real meaning” of what people are communicating when they are angry, how to stay calm in the face of anger and or an attack, and other concepts that will help you to maintain a positive life attitude when faced with the challenge of anger.

You can read more about managing anger in our article: Yes AND No – Saying BOTH at the same time.

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!

Learning From Life

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Life has taught me some tough lessons, and the scars do not heal easily.”? What I would like to suggest in this article is that you can learn valuable lessons from the past, rather than allowing the past to limit your future.

The quality of the life we live, is based upon the learning we derive from our experiences. I know that for myself, it is sometimes easy to feel that “Life has taught me some tough lessons, and the scars do not heal easily.” When I find myself thinking like this it means that I have fallen into the trap of believing that “It is ‘only natural’ that an ‘X’ type event or relationship, will lead to a ‘Y’ type response.” At other times it becomes apparent that if I had somehow learned something different from a particular challenging situation, the quality of my life would be much more rewarding.

In working with a client struggling with alcoholism, we spent our first session with the client telling me in detail how he had come to live such an unhealthy debilitating life. In short he said: “Both my parents were alcoholics, and both of them were physically abusive to me. I grew up never knowing what bad thing would happen next. I learned from my parents that the best way to not have to feel the pain and uncertainty of life was to escape into an altered state of alcohol induced euphoria.” When listening to a client tell such a sad story, it is easy to believe that their situation was all but preordained.

As fate would have it, a week after beginning to work with this client, I went to a business luncheon to hear an inspirational speaker discuss how we can live our life fully, and succeed in times of hardship. Indeed, the speaker was truly inspirational. When the talk was over I waited around to thank him.

After introducing myself and thanking him, I asked him how he had come to lead such an exemplary life. He looked around to make sure no one else was listening and in a low voice he said the following: “Both my parents were alcoholics, and both of them were physically abusive to me.I grew up never knowing what bad thing would happen next. I learned from my parents that the worst possible way to deal with the pain and uncertainty of life was to escape into an altered state of alcohol induced euphoria. My parents taught me a difficult but very important lesson. I learned from them that staying present in the moment is the only real chance we have for living a fulfilling life.”

What a truly great example of embodied spirit the motivational speaker offers us. The quality of our life is not dependent on the circumstances we encounter. The quality of our life is dependent on what we learn from the circumstances we encounter. Perhaps the greatest example of this wisdom is present in the life of Nelson Mandela. He is a man that suffered great pain and hardship, and somehow his suffering seasoned his soul in a way that has led him to be compassionate and caring.

In the course of exploring how to live our life more fully we can consider pondering one question over and over again, “What can I learn from the difficulties I am experiencing, that will actually ADD to the quality of my life?” At the very least we can begin to entertain the fact that: We can derive a wide range of learning from any single circumstance, event, or relationship. When we get the most stuck in life is when we believe that the one thing we did learn is the only thing that can be learned.

Are you able to say both “Yes!” and “No!”?

I hear from many people that they see ever increasing expressions of anger in their everyday work life and personal life. Understanding the process of anger is an important topic for all of us to take a closer look at.

If you take the time to delve deeper into your own anger or resentment, you will often find that you are seriously limiting your ability to feel and express what you truly feel. In the process of limiting yourself, you become the victim of your emotions. You might, for instance, be angry because you feel that someone else should be punished or held accountable, but in the long run your anger will only wind up punishing yourself. You might wind up resenting the way you are treated at work, but if you take a look you will usually find that your resentment limits your ability to get the kind of treatment you truly desire.

If you feel stuck in a situation where you can only say “Yes” then your response will not come from your heart, and your response will not be supported by your emotions. When you feel unable to say “No” then you will likely find that no matter what you say verbally, “No” becomes the default response you want to give to others. You will likely find yourself even more frustrated as you understand on an emotional level that you are never sharing your true feelings and opinions. When you are able to speak the truth of both your “Yes” and your “No” in a calm manner, you will find that you experience a sense of emotional freedom and well-being. Wouldn’t it be great if you felt it was safe to express your true opinion at work, and with all your significant others?

When it is all said and done, when we delve deeply into our emotions, we almost always find that our strongest and most habitual response is covering up other feelings that we are not fully aware of. When we feel hurt, disrespected, abandoned, or sad, we cover over these feelings and lose touch with them, by expressing anger or resentment instead.

When we find ways to tap into our deeper emotions we invariably find that we have been neglecting some form of pain or discomfort. When we neglect or simply don’t notice our deeper emotional reactions, we lose the ability to express our full range of emotions. In the process we find that by consistently expressing only one segment of our entire emotional range, we limit our ability to be happy and feel at ease within ourselves and with those that we interact with.

It is important to remember that our emotions emanate from the body. When you are feeling angry, your body generates a specific set of reactions that inform your rational mind of your emotional experience. When you are feeling respected or loved your body generates a very different set of reactions. With Seishindo you can explore the process of how your body generates your emotional state and you can come to understand how at times you say one thing with your body and something rather different with your words. You can come to understand how you wind up confusing yourself when you say one thing with your heart and another with your logical mind. If you do wind up confusing yourself on a regular basis, you will find that your overall health and vitality suffer in the process.

Only when you feel like you have the right to say “No” can you truly engage your heart in saying “Yes.” This is very important for leaders, parents, and spouses to keep in mind. Only when your body and your rational mind communicate the same message in a congruent manner, will you find yourself feeling empowered and at ease. Take the time to gently explore your feelings and you will find that your emotional well-being resides deep inside yourself, waiting to be touched and acknowledged.

Be sure to see our video about Anger Management to get the full insight!

Teaching others to be kind, and positively oriented

In many different circumstances that life brings our way, we need to learn how to join with and utilize a person’s current “bad” behavior in order to induce them to act in a more positively oriented manner. Sometimes we might call this “leadership”, sometimes “parenting” and sometimes it means being a supportive spouse or partner. Rather than telling a person they are doing something “wrong” and demanding they act differently, if we validate the other person’s beliefs and opinions, change will often occur “on its own.” Nothing taught me this better than my time spent with my parrot!

Many years ago my parents gave me a parrot. The first thing I learned is that parrots can be dangerous to be around. They can do major damage to your fingers and other body parts. At the time, I was living and working with my friend Reeves Teague. He understood animals from a “country boy” perspective having grown up in the mountains of North Carolina. Here is the process for modifying negative behavior that I learned from Reeves, and modified over the years.

1. Invite an attack with an open and loving countenance.

The parrot is going to try and bite you no matter what, as a natural act of self preservation. Instead of trying to stop him from biting you, utilize his current behavior and encourage it. Wear something to protect your fingers, and invite the parrot to bite you.

Welcoming and utilizing the parrot’s current behavior even if it is violent, is very much in the spirit of Aikido and Ericksonian Hypnosis.

In Ericksonian Hypnosis you utilize the client’s “bad” behavior and join with and validate their current model of the world, rather than trying to change the client and give him the message he is doing something wrong.

In Aikido when you encourage your counterpart to express themselves physically, and they attack you, they are actually following your directions, and doing what you have asked. At such times the attack becomes definitely less violent, as the attacker unconsciously realizes that on a deep level they are cooperating with you.

Whether the activity be Aikido training, parrot training, rearing children, or dealing with an angry person at work, when you welcome the attack, the attack winds up being a lot less vicious, and it lasts for a much shorter amount of time.

2. Encourage violence and tenderness at the same time.

Leave your finger in the cage and encourage the parrot to gnaw on it. With your free hand gently rub the parrot’s head much like you might do with a dog or cat. When you and the parrot are tender and violent at the same time, you are beginning to engage in the act of play. This is a tricky path to navigate at times, but the results you can get will often be nothing less than amazing.

3. Reward the negative behavior and thus reframe the meaning of the behavior.

When you reward the “bad” behavior, the behavior is no longer bad. The parrot bites your right hand and you reward him by giving a snack/reward with your left hand. The relationship is circular in nature. It doesn’t take long before the parrot loses his enthusiasm for biting you. He still very much wants the snacks you feed him after each attack, but he would rather not have to do all of the biting to get the goodies.

4. Blur the starting and stopping points, blur the difference between good and bad.

The parrot has been biting one hand and you have been nuzzling the parrot and feeding him with your other hand. Now take the hand that has been doing the nuzzling and feeding and present it to the parrot for biting. When the parrot takes a playful nip, you nuzzle him with the hand he was previously gnawing on.

When you encourage the parrot to bite the hand that feeds him, his confusion will be obvious!

5. Change the reason for the reward.

After the “break in” period you only give a snack (reward) when the parrot is gentle and playful. Little by little you thus change the reference behavior for getting the snack. Usually at this stage, anyone that moves slowly can play with the parrot with little concern about getting bitten.

I have found the above method, to be by far the fastest, easiest, and most humane way to tame a parrot, and calm down children and adults that appear to have a violent streak. Take some time to think about what I have written here, and how you could implement the same basic process with someone you have been struggling with. With a bit of creative thinking on your part, you will wind up having much better relationships with people who have tended to be harsh and negative in the past.

Is it finally time to forgive?

In order to free ourselves from the pain of anger and resentment we need to be able to forgive our self and others. The longer we dwell on hurtful situations from the past, the longer we keep our self from living fully in the present. Forgiveness is an act of kindness. An act of kindness to your self, as it leads to a sense of personal freedom.

Recently I had a client who had a lot of resentment towards her mother for many things that she had done to her in the past.
“I don’t want to forgive my mother for what she did in the past.” my client said. “What she did is wrong, and she has never apologized.”
I hear this very same statement from many clients who are living with resentment, whether it be towards their parents, their spouse, or their boss.

I asked my client if she felt that anyone other than herself, was responsible for, and capable of, making her happy. After a rather long and convoluted discussion, she said that when it was all said and done, she realized that she was indeed the only one that could make herself happy.

We sat there together for a while, and then I took a deep breath and suggested that my client do so as well. Here is an idea, I said. “What if as a totally selfish act, done simply for your own personal happiness, you decided to go ahead and let go of the resentment you had towards your mom, so that you would no longer need to have resentment clouding your life. What would that be like?” “You would not be saying that what was done to you was OK. You would simply be letting go of the resentment so that your own life would be happier. Would you want to let go of your resentment if it meant you would feel greater happiness?”

We sat there together for a while and my client’s face softened. She said that if she was able to let go of her resentment, it would be like lifting a weight from her shoulders, and removing a dark cloud from her heart.

“With all you have been through,” I said. “With all of the pain you have suffered, wouldn’t it be a wonderful gift to yourself if you could lift this weight from your shoulders and remove the dark cloud from your heart? Would it not be wonderful to be freed from your hurt and resentment?”
She sat there for a while, as tears formed, and she said very softly “Yes, I want to feel good. I want to feel love. I want to feel free.”

“So” I said, “In order to free yourself from pain and open your heart to love, you would be willing to go so far as to forgive your mother if this is what you felt was necessary for your own personal happiness?”
She was somewhat hesitant, but said “Yes.”
“Remember” I said, “I am suggesting that you do this purely for selfish reasons. Not because you want to actually forgive your mom at this point in time, but because you want to free yourself to live a happier life.”
My client said “Yes, when it is said like this, I have the resolve to forgive my mother, in order to free myself to live a happier life.”
“Good I said. “Hold these thoughts and feelings in your heart for a while and then we can talk about how to actually accomplish your forgiving.”

How about you? Are you holding onto any resentment? Are you ready to recapture your happiness? Would you be willing to undertake the radical act of forgiveness in order to free yourself? I certainly hope so.
And if not today, maybe tomorrow.

The Paradox of One And Many in Aikido Philosophy

This article is a synopsis of the teaching of Aikido master Koichi Tohei, regarding how to appreciate, empathize with, and respect the diverse people, energies, and opinions that you come in contact with on a daily basis.

Tohei sensei used to say that in a healthy person the flow of their “ki” (the energy inherent throughout the Universe) is like the outpouring of an underground spring sitting at the bottom of a deep lake. The spring feeds water to the lake, much like we can feed the universe healing energy. The spring feeds the lake a constant flow of water without ever being diminished, and this outpouring of water is not impeded by the weight and pressure of the lake bearing down upon it. When ki flows it follows the path of least resistance. This is a path of great power. As human beings we are designed to feed energy to the universe, by following a path of least resistance. This feeding of “our” energy is what helps us to also maintain our own personal health and well being. We receive by giving, because our ki belongs to the Universe, and not to any one individual.

In this article I want to talk about how we can better appreciate, empathize with, and respect the diverse people, energies, and opinions that we come in contact with on a daily basis. I hope to give some small insight into how we can begin to understand the paradox of One common energy source feeding all of the diversity and difference that we see around us. In Aikido we practice what I guess could be called a “physical” discipline to accomplish this. We PRACTICE appreciation, empathy, and respect, in regard to our partner, with the hope that some day in the future our practice will transform into an embodied reality. We practice breathing exercises and meditation, and in the course of these experiences we have a sense of being one with the universe.

In Aikido, as new students we first learn how to balance our physical structure and relax the body’s musculature. It is this balance and release of excess muscular tension that allows the weight of the body’s trunk to come to a natural resting place in our lower abdomen, in the general area of our reproductive organs. This area in our lower abdomen is what Tohei sensei calls “the one point” and he exhorts his students to maintain the feeling of the body’s weight resting naturally in this area. By maintaining physical balance and relaxation we release excess physical tension, calm the thinking mind, and sense a common bond with all of life. At such times we naturally generate a copious flow of ki, and exude a healing presence to those around us. Previously I said that ki is the life force that animates all living beings and that all living beings share and utilize the SAME energy source, the same ki, the same spirit. In Aikido we call this shared universal spirit “reiseishin.” When we balance and relax the body, unify our thoughts and actions, and calm our thinking mind, we manifest an outpouring of “Reseishin” in the same manner that a mother holding her newborn baby exudes and expresses love, protection, and compassion. When we experience the flow of “reiseishin” we naturally appreciate, empathize with, and respect all of life.

For me personally, what is important to say in regard to sensing the flow of “reiseishin” is that the experience is not generated by the activity of the thinking mind. Our sense of unity with all of life comes about when we “do only what is necessary, and nothing more or less.” It is this “doing less” that leads to greater power and a greater sense of connection to life. We gain the paradoxical experience of calmness and action being two sides of the same coin. One being the mirror image of the other. Great calmness leads to great action, like a hurricane radiating out from its calm “eye.” Great action leads to great calmness, as when a strongly thrown top rights itself and calmly spins round its center.

When you balance and relax your body, unify your thoughts and actions, and calm your thinking mind, you move from an experience of duality to an experience of commonality. At such times you understand experientially what is paradoxical to the thinking mind – That so much difference comes from One source.

You breathe deeply and sense the simultaneous inflow and outflow of ki.
You breathe deeply and feel a “heavy-lightness” in the body.
You breathe deeply and sense the “immovable-movement” of your spirit.

When you sense and move with the energy that is manifesting throughout the universe you find that you have a greater ability to live a life that is healthy and fulfilling, a greater sense of valuing and protecting all of life. When you learn to instinctively move with others rather than attempting to oppose them, you quickly come to a sense of intuitively understanding your counterpart’s thoughts and actions, and you increase the likelihood of your being able to gently lead your counterpart in new directions in the future. This is certainly a timely topic given the current conditions in the world today. Aikido is a martial art that wages peace. We have no attack form in Aikido, even though Aikido is very much an effective form of self-defense. As I said previously, in Aikido we cultivate an experience that leads us to believe that all living beings utilize and share a common energy source (ki) that helps to run and maintain our environment as well as our individual human systems. We believe that since we all share a common energy source, that in some important way we are all truly members of the same family, and that we share our lives with all of nature. We do not have an attack form in Aikido, because attacking another human being would be like attacking a family member that you love. One of the main ideas of Aikido is to find a way to honor and protect your own being, your own opinions, your own right to life, while CONCURRENTLY honoring and protecting the same in your opponent. Not at all a simple task, but one well worth trying to embody.

As you learn to locate and maintain your own personal “center”, you discover that your center is both local and global, or as Akio Morita the past CEO of Sony said, “We must think globally while acting locally. We must develop the capacity to be ‘glocal’.” When you experience this sense of being “glocal” you manifest a greater capacity to join and blend with the “ki” of others. You realize that in some very important way we all share the same ki, the same ancestry, the same God, the same life. There is a “oneness” to all of life, and this “One” can never be reduced to zero. From this “One” energy two counterbalancing forces appeared and stimulated and supported each other, and the conditional world was born. The conditional world requires the ongoing working relationship of “opposites.” Night and Day, Male-Female, Yin and Yang. These opposites REQUIRE and support each other. If night were to oppose day, if male denigrates and or suppresses female, if one group of people subjugates another, all of life is diminished in some important sense. The relative world REQUIRES difference in order to maintain the commonality of life. Differences in opinion, difference in beliefs, differences in religion, all lead to a feeding of the “reiseishin” of our common spirit. It is so important for us to realize that “difference” creates the diversity that supports the viability of future life, that opposites are necessary for counterbalance in a conditional world. We must sense our oneness with all of life, while not in any way requiring that there only be one right way, one set of beliefs, one religion.

Three important components in supporting the diversity that feeds life, are Appreciation, Empathy, and Respect.

1. Appreciation of diversity fosters an openness to exploring difference. An openness to exploring difference means that we will have a much richer wealth of ideas and alternatives to draw upon. This is one of the necessary components for successful adaptation. We move away from a concept of “right or wrong” and instead consider what will work best in this particular instance. We welcome and acknowledge the process of trial and error, knowing that all learning requires that we make some mistakes along the way. If we belittle or stifle the answers or opinions that don’t wind up fitting our needs this time around, we denigrate the creative process, and diminish the flow of new ideas in the future.
2. Empathy helps us to be responsive to the needs, dreams, and desires of others. When we are sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others, we soon realize that “MY” way is not the only way. “My” way is not THE right way. “My” way is only one of many ways.
3. Respect is an important component in fostering all of life, because it leads to the manifestation of “reiseishin.” Our task in life is not easy. But luckily, we each have great capacity, as we are each fed by the “One” ki of the universe.

May the importance of differences in opinion and beliefs be appreciated. May we empathize with the plight of others. May we bow to and respect the sanctity of all life.

The Gift of Forgiveness

This is a simple yet profound Practice. If you have been following and experimenting with our other Practices along the way, you might notice that today’s Practice has a very similar structure to two other Practices. These three Practices (“Today …”, “Today, my anger is about …, and ) follow a particular structure for meaningful personal dialogue that I have uncovered over the years. Little by little, absorb this structure into your bones, and then start creating your own Practices, based on different concerns!

This Practice follows the Seishindo principles of Absorption, Utilization, and Balance.

  • Absorb your upset feelings as you inhale, and feel what is there for you.
  • Utilize your upsetness to help generate forgiveness.
  • Remain emotionally balanced as you feel a wider range of your emotions

Instead of so often feeling angry or resentful and limiting what you are capable of feeling and appreciating, this Practice invites you to use the energy that builds up due to your anger or resentment, as the catalyst for generating forgiveness. The more you are able to feel anger or resentment while not fully giving into it and losing yourself, the more you will be able to enter onto a path of forgiveness.

As always the key here is to take your time, speak slowly, breathe deeply, and pause between sentences.

Keep each sentence short and concise. This is important. Long sentences lead to sloppy thinking and getting lost.

You are to speak each sentence out loud if you are in a space that allows for this.

It can often be helpful to repeat this process for several rounds in one sitting, letting your words change as you go along.

You might want to read through this Practice at least once, before actually beginning.

Choices:

In general, you can:
Choose between using and working with the concept of “anger” or “resentment” for each statement that you read below.

Or, alternate between using “anger” for one statement, and “resentment” for the next statement.

Or, use both terms at the same time, “My anger and resentment……”

It is totally up to you.

If your sense of anger or resentment is strong, you might likely have to do this Practice a number of times before you are able to fully agree with what you are saying. This is often an important part of the process. If necessary, please do give yourself the opportunity to speak the words while still feeling a bit out of alignment with what you are saying. This is part of opening up to the gift of forgiveness.

Today, I am feeling into my relationship with … … . (Name a person or situation that is troublesome)
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Today, I am feeling into my anger (resentment) in this regard.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly.

Today, in feeling my anger(resentment), I realize that I am missing out on the opportunity to experience the blessing of serenity.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Look around at your surroundings as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that beyond my anger(resentment), I would also like to feel a sense of deep inner calm.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Listen to your surroundings as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that I can help improve my overall emotional response to life, by giving myself the gift of forgiveness.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that I would like to exchange my anger(resentment) for a sense of peace and calm.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Look around at your surroundings as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that feeling a sense of forgiveness, leads to feeling calm, and at peace with myself.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Listen to your surroundings as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that I can breathe in anger(resentment), and breathe out forgiveness and compassion.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply In AND Out, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Today, I know that I can face my anger(resentment) again tomorrow, with a sense of serenity.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Today, I can rest in the grace of the world and be free.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Today, my anger is about …

This is a simple yet profound Practice that follows the Seishindo principles of Absorption, Utilization, and Balance.

  • Absorb your anger as you breathe it in and feel it.
  • Utilize the energy that your anger generates in you. The more consuming or seemingly overwhelming your anger, the more your system will be energized.
  • Remain emotionally balanced and look at all the sides and possibilities of your anger.

Instead of being only angry and limiting what you are capable of feeling, and thus limiting your ability to resolve your emotional reaction, this Practice invites you to explore the entire range of your emotions. The more you are able to feel the entire range of your emotions, the more emotionally balanced you will feel.

As always the key here is to take your time, speak slowly, breathe deeply, and pause between sentences.
Keep each sentence short and concise. This is important. Long sentences lead to sloppy thinking and getting lost.

You are to speak each sentence out loud if you are in a space that allows for this.

It can often be helpful to repeat this process for several rounds in one sitting, letting your words change as you go along.

You might want to read through this Practice at least once, before actually beginning.

Today, my anger is about …………..
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly.

Today, in feeling my anger, I realize that I am missing out on the opportunity to feel …………
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Look around at your surroundings as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that beyond my anger, I also feel ……………
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Listen to your surroundings as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that I can support myself and my anger better, by realizing that my anger is connected to my feeling of ……………
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that what I would like to feel in the place of anger is …………..
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Look around at your surroundings as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that feeling peace and calm is a wonderful experience.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Listen to your surroundings as you sit quietly

Today, I realize that I can breathe in anger, and breathe out compassion and love.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply In AND Out, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Today, I know that I can face my anger again tomorrow, with courage and compassion.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Today, I can rest in the grace of the world and be free.
Pause, Breathe. Deeply, and Feel the Movement in your body as you sit quietly

Stand in “Hanmi”

This is a basic activity taken from Aikido and further elaborated on for our purposes in Seishindo. Performing this Practice from time to time will give you an active experience of developing a calm presence. When you are feeling fully present you will notice that your thinking mind and your feeling mind are both calm, yet active.

In the beginning you might find that doing this Practice leads you to understand just how fluid and perhaps unstable in some regards, your overall sense of balance is. Although you might not love this experience right from the very first, if you stick with it you will find that this simple Practice can be highly rewarding.

This Practice is a primary part of the process that I teach to people wanting to excel at leadership and public speaking.

Stand in Hanmi

These directions are meant to be “approximate” in nature, and not exact. As you practice standing in “hanmi” you will find that your posture and footing changes some over time. If I was there to show you this in person, it would be quite simple to understand. Use my words as a general guide, and don’t be concerned with whether or not you get it all “just right.”

Stand facing in the direction of the two arrows that run parallel to each other (See the diagram just below). As you stand facing “forward” the arrow splayed to the left represents your left foot, with the “head” of the arrow meant to be the tip of your left foot, and the back of the arrow meant to be your left heel. The arrow splayed to the right represents your right foot. Both feet are splayed at approximately a 45 degree angle from “straight ahead.” If your spine was to extend all the way to the floor, it would touch the floor at the space of the darkened square.

Hanmi PracticeThe distance between the two parallel lines with arrows, is about four inches. This alerts you to the fact that your heels and thus the width of your stance as measured from your heels, is about four inches. Both legs are straight, but ever so much soft at the knees. Your weight is equally distributed in both feet.

The distance between the two horizontal vertical lines is also about four inches. This alerts you to how much the toe of the right foot is in front of the heel of the left foot.

Once you have all of the above in place then you rotate your trunk somewhat towards the left, approximately 30 degrees from straight ahead, in the direction of the green arrow.

Gaze out into the distance as if you are looking at a panoramic view.

You can also reverse this stance and have your right foot forward.

When practicing this posture on a regular basis, it is best to alternate from left foot forward to right foot forward, each time you practice. Right foot forward during one time, left foot forward during the next.

Activities for “Riding the Horse” and “Hanmi”

1) Prior to getting into position, develop an “I am” statement.
Think about something that you would like to accomplish. Then, make a statement about what you would like to accomplish, imagining that you have already accomplished your goal.

Examples:
“I am feeling fit and slim and enjoying my body.”
“I am enjoying my work and my interactions with my colleagues.”

Once you have the statement clearly in mind, stand in hanmi and from time to time, in a nice, slow, relaxed rhythm, repeat your “I am” statement to yourself. If you are by yourself, say you can say your “I am” statement out loud.

At the same time that you are doing all of this, notice from time to time how various aspects of your experience change. Your breathing, the movements of your body, your vision, the sounds around you, etc.

2) Stand in hanmi while practicing giving a speech, or making a declaration to someone.

3) Stand in hanmi and imagine yourself being calm and connected during a time of challenge.

4) Stand in hanmi and pray for the well being of yourself, or someone you care about. Stand in hanmi and imagine getting exactly what is most important to you. Stand in hanmi and give thanks for all that you have.

No matter which activity you do, be certain to take some deep breaths from time to time.