Tag Archives: positive intention

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,
Charlie_Signature_Final

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,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Tapping into the benefits of stress

Play

Stress can actually be beneficial for you if you learn to think about and respond to it differently. By doing so, you can then use the signs of stress that show up in your daily life as a way to help you become healthier and happier.

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,
Charlie_Signature_Final

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,
Charlie_Signature_Final

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,
Charlie_Signature_Final

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,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Say Yes to Success – Live Demonstration of Seishindo Life Tools in Action

Play

This podcast features a live demonstration of Charlie working with a person during a teleclass. It shows how to implement the tools of Positive Intention, Goal Setting, and “I am” statements. Charlie also expresses his ideas about what it really means to be successful.

Defusing Potential Conflict: Part 2 – Strengthening your appreciation for your counterpart

Play

We discuss how you can further defuse potential conflict with someone by appreciating that their model of the world is different than yours and by developing a sense of “we-dentity”.

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,
Charlie_Signature_Final

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,
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!

Positive Intention: Part 3 – With Yourself

Play

This podcast explores how we can have a better relationship with ourselves, and in the process, wind up having better relationships with others by leveraging the concept of positive intention.

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: Part 2 – With Others

Play

This podcast explores how we can have better relationships with others by assuming that they have positive intentions – in other words, by assuming each person really does want to be engaged in relationships that serve all parties involved.

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

 

Positive Intention: Part 1 – Introduction

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This podcast introduces the Seishindo view about positive intention and how it can help people live more fulfilling lives. Positive Intention will be a key and fundamental tool we will use in future podcasts.

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,
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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,
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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…

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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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.”

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/

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!

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!”

There is no more important person to love than yourself

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for me to lose contact with the part of myself that generates my emotional experience. Does the same happen to be true for you?

There has been a great deal of research that shows that many people who work in the “helping professions” (and this very much includes stay at home mothers) suffer from what has become known as “Compassion Fatigue” or “Helping Profession Syndrome.” You can become so focused on helping others that you lose touch with how important it is to also help yourself.

I write about this now because of an experience I had yesterday; that might very much speak to your experience as well.

My legs have bothered me since I was a young child. I often have pain in my knees, and it is exactly this condition that led me to become involved in my life’s work. I am known as a skillful bodyworker and yet I find that I rarely use my bodyworking skills on myself. I seem to forget that the skills and sensitivity I use to help others can also be used for ME.

Yesterday my left knee was bothering me, and I finally decided to take the time to help myself.

I sat on the floor with my left leg fully extended. I then took a minute to center as I felt my leg as it was at that moment. Next, I used my hands to feel what my leg wanted to have done to it. I felt for the sore spots and I began to gently and lovingly massage my leg.

Breathing deeply, I massaged my leg slowly and tenderly, yet firmly. I asked my leg to tell my hands what it wanted, and I asked my hands to communicate a story to me of what my leg was saying. I “heard” my leg say, “I am tired and I don’t feel like I am getting enough help in supporting and carrying the heavy load I have to tend with.”

My leg also said, “I feel somewhat neglected and taken for granted. I don’t really feel like I am fully appreciated for fulfilling a challenging task.”

“Hmm…” I thought to myself, “Doesn’t sound all that different from what the rest of me sometimes says!”

Next, I used my hands to reply to my leg. Through my touch I communicated,

“I love you.”

Then I said, “I am sorry for not being more attentive, responsive, and appreciative.” Through my touch I said, “I really care about you and I am going to establish a closer relationship with you from here on out.”

Finally I said, “I very much want to hear from you, without your needing to use pain to shout at me. I will be more attentive to, and more appreciative of our relationship.”

I sat there for a few moments, breathing loving energy through my hands into my leg.

After a while I heard a soft whisper.

“I love you, and I have been very lonely, waiting for you to show up. Thank you so much for caring about me.”

And those words really moved me.

I came away from this experience with a sense of being whole and healthy. I had become one with myself, in love.

The experience I describe does not require any learned skills. All you need to do is take some time and have a heartfelt appreciation for yourself and your needs. When it is all said and done, THE most significant person to enter into a relationship of love and service with is yourself! There is no more important person to love, than yourself.

What is your relationship to Time?

Have you ever thought about how your orientation to time profoundly affects the way you are in the world? Each culture has its own unique way of relating to the concept of “time”. Some cultures perceive time as a room that is lived in. The “room” of time is a constant that stays the same, as we change during the course of our lives. American culture seems to more and more think of time as a commodity there is never enough of. When time is “wasted” a person misses out on an opportunity that may never present itself again. Still other cultures experience time as being circular, without a beginning or an end, and with no clear markers as to past, present, and future. No matter how we think about it, our relationship to time has a profound impact on what we believe is possible. Here is a story to illustrate what I mean.

Years ago I belonged to a healing community in the States. A women who was a member of the group had an infant who was born with a serious condition which was meant to limit the young child’s life span to only three or four years maximum. The woman was totally committed to the health and well being of her infant, and she spent every waking moment praying for her baby. Her prayer went something like this: “Dear Lord, please heal my baby and help him to be fully healthy.” She offered up this prayer countless times a day.

After some months of praying, and with the child’s condition not improving, the mother spontaneously had an important “truth” present itself to her. She realized that in praying for her child to be healed, in a deeper sense she was acknowledging the “fact” that indeed her child was not well at this time. In effect she was saying/praying “Lord, my child is currently ill, and I am asking that you heal him and make him healthy in the future.” She realized that if she was praying a similar prayer for herself, it would be difficult for her to feel good about her chances of being healed if she was continually reminding herself that she was currently not healthy. She realized that even though her child was way too young to understand the words of her prayer, that somehow her words would not be fully supporting her child in feeling and being healthy now as well as in the future. With her new understanding of how her concept of time was deeply affecting her prayer, she revised her concept and began praying the following: “Lord thank you for the health and well being of my child. I am eternally grateful.” Rather than praying for how she wanted her child to be different in the future, she prayed “from the future” and brought her prayer into the present. She prayed from an understanding that her child was “already” healthy, and that he was simply in a rebalancing stage that if allowed to run its course, would naturally bring about a continuation of his healthy state as time went on.

After many months of praying her new prayer the condition of her child slowly began to change. The doctors were surprised and confounded. Little by little the child blossomed into full health, like a flower that is awakened to life by the warm inviting rays of spring sunlight. He eventually entered school along with all of his buddies, and wound up being a shining example of the power of love, gratitude, and an empowering understanding of time.

Please give yourself the gift of believing that you are already everything that you always wanted to be. Breathe into this radical concept, and then simply allow and encourage yourself to grow into your new sense of self.

Some Thoughts and Ideals to Ponder

Pondering the following thoughts and ideals can likely benefit you in many ways.

  • The meaning of your communication can be understood by the response it elicits in others.
  • The “map” that you use in order to help you “navigate” through your life should not be confused with the actual territory that the map is meant to represent. The world that you believe in, is very different than the world that many others believe in.
  • Everyone lives in their own unique model of the world. What we each individually perceive and understand is our own unique version of reality and is not duplicated in any other living being. Rest easy with this knowledge and you afford yourself the possibility of many new and wonderful learnings that are not available to people who believe that their version of the world is THE correct version.
  • No matter how poor their performance, people always do the best they are capable of, given their unique model of the world, their currents skills and abilities, and the situation at hand.
  • People have all the resources necessary to make any desired change. Actually activating these resources can be another whole story.
  • Hold the positive worth of each individual as a constant, while sometimes questioning the value and appropriateness of their behaviors.
  • “The Problem” is, that you do not fully recognize the true magnificence of who you really are, and in the process of not fully recognizing your own magnificence, you will tend to devalue both yourself and others.

The tyranny of “What if…?”

What you worry about determines the course of your life. Free yourself from the tyranny of your negative “What if…” scenarios, and you will discover that you have both everything to lose, and everything to gain!

A number of years ago I had a client who came to me in a really bad stressed out condition. He came for one session, and then the next thing I knew I was told he had had a nervous breakdown. When I visited him in the hospital, I was quite surprised to see that his face had a certain radiance to it. I asked how he was doing, half expecting to hear a litany of bad news. Instead, the man smiled and said the following. “I feel very lucky right now. Very blessed. I have let go of nearly everything I was trying to hold onto and I finally became aware of the mantra that I had been repeating to myself over and over again.”

“What happened to me was so surreal.” he said. “I was sitting in an unemployment office and I was feeling more and more agitated. Then all of a sudden I passed out. Or at least they told me I passed out because I don’t remember that part. What I do remember is waking up in this bed, and for the first time in my life, there was this deafening quiet inside my head, and a great calmness in my body that touched my soul. For the first time in my life, for at least a few minutes time I had no internal dialogue. This was a very amazing experience.”

“You see,” he said, “When I first came to see you I was afraid of losing my job, my wife, and my house. I was relentlessly repeating various ‘What if” mantras. What if I lose my job?’ ‘What if I lose my wife?’.As it turned out I did lose my job. And upon getting fired, because my finances were already totally frazzled, I soon had to hand over ownership of my house to the bank. And upon learning about the foreclosure on our house my wife immediately left me. And now I feel like a bright and energetic fourteen year old starting all over again! I have new dreams, new ways of thinking, a whole new life ahead of me now, and perhaps most importantly I have a new mantra.”

“My only sadness is that I wish I would have had my nervous breakdown much earlier in life, so I could have much sooner gotten into living from a place of enthusiasm rather than a place of fear. I just didn’t realize how fantastic a nervous breakdown could be! I have lost everything, but in the process I have gained a completely new way of being in the world. It is such a joy to know that I no longer need to live in fear.”

In the process of finally being released from the tyranny of “What if” this man attained great wisdom and peace of mind. After chatting a bit longer I finally got ready to leave. My ex-client said “One more thing if you don’t mind me suggesting it. When a client comes to you stressed out and fearful, tell him to take a moment, and take a deep breath. Then suggest that the best thing he can do is to have his nervous breakdown right then and there. Invite him to have his breakdown on the spot, so that he can get back into living a full life again, free from stress and fear! Believe me, the sooner you can completely let go, the better. In math, ten minus ten equals zero. In life, if you take everything that you have and minus all of it, you wind up with much more than you ever dreamed of!”

Have you been lucky in life?

Each moment in life, “lucky” or “unlucky”, is to be savored, learned from, and appreciated. Easier said than done? Read this story and it will likely give you a new perspective on your own luck.

I met an exceptional American man in Athens in my younger years. He had a beautiful and gentle French girlfriend, and everyone was always complimenting him and telling him how “lucky” he was. His usual reply was something to the effect of “Lucky or unlucky is hard for me to say, as this is only one small moment in my whole life. But I will tell you this, at this moment, I am very definitely enjoying myself and feeling thankful.”

Shortly after meeting him he was thrown in jail in Greece, which in those days was run by a brutal military dictator. All his friends sat around in Athens talking about how “unlucky” he was, since the police threw him in jail with no real evidence. When I visited him and told him his friends felt terrible about his bad luck he smiled warmly and said, “Lucky or unlucky is hard for me to say. But I am sure I will have a great story to tell some day! And for this I am thankful.”

After several years in jail he was released, and he returned to the States. He was traveling along the coast roads of California, when he met a lovely woman in a roadside cafe, and began to flirt with her. Unbeknownst to my friend, the woman had a boyfriend who belonged to a gang, and the boyfriend soon appeared with his buddies and became furious. In order to “teach my friend a lesson” they proceeded to throw him off the side of the road, and down the rocky expanse leading to the ocean some one hundred feet below. They left him for dead.

Some hours later a rescue crew arrived and made their way down the cliff and they were amazed to find that my friend was still alive. As they slowly hoisted him back up to the roadside, numerous bystanders remarked at how amazingly lucky he was to not have been killed. If my friend had not been unconscious at that time it is likely that he would have said something to the effect of “Lucky or unlucky is hard for me to say, but I can tell you that I hurt like hell!”

In a few days time when he had regained consciousness he discovered that he was paralyzed from the waist down. I called him to see how he was doing. He said to me “What would you say Charlie? Lucky to be alive or unlucky to be paralyzed from the waist down.” I had no ready answer.

Many months later we met in person again. By this time he had already customized his wheelchair to make it more “radical” and he was sporting a buffed out physique from his many hours of weight lifting. He said to me “Previously when people remarked about my life, it was very easy for me to say that I felt neither lucky or unlucky. Now I know very deeply that each moment, lucky or unlucky, is to be savored. If I label my circumstances as ‘lucky’ what will this mean? Will it mean that I am happy about what has happened? If I label my circumstances as ‘unlucky’ what will this mean? Will it mean that I am unhappy about what has happened? And what about tomorrow, and the day after that, and the year after that? Will I let ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’ determine how I feel about myself and how I live my life? I certainly hope not!” He smiled warmly as always, and I was thankful to be in his presence.

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.

Appreciating your exceptional learning abilities

Over the years, have you perhaps lost sight of the fact that you are a brilliant learner?
“Huh?” you might ask. “Are you talking to me?”
Here is a story to illustrate my point.

I was sitting in a restaurant talking to a Japanese boy in the first grade. I asked him how he was liking school and he quickly exclaimed that he hated school. I asked him why he hated school and he said, “Two reasons. One you have to sit still all the time, and two, there are too many things you have to remember.”

I told him I agreed that being required to sit still was really “dumb”. On the other hand I said “I think you remember much more than your teacher realizes.” This remark caught him by surprise and I felt like he didn’t know whether to agree with me or ask me if I was crazy.

Speaking in Japanese, I asked the boy if he was learning some English. He said he was, and that English was really difficult. I told him that English was actually quite easy to learn, and that most every American child can speak English prior to entering grammar school.

The boy sat quietly for a moment and then replied, “But Japanese children can speak Japanese prior to entering school!”

“Yes.” I said, “Since you have already proven how smart you are in learning Japanese, I am sure you will also do great with English.”

Once again the child was at a loss for words.

The restaurant we were at had heavy paper covering the tables and there were crayons for children to draw with while waiting for the meal to arrive. Noticing the boy had a toy replica of a “MIG” fighter aircraft with him, I picked up a crayon and drew a simple picture of the plane and said, “This is a MIG” as I drew the letters MIG. Next I drew a pig and said “This is a PIG.” as I wrote the word “pig.” Then I drew a branch and said “This is a “TWIG” as I wrote the word “twig”.

Next, I drew a very simple picture of a PIG sitting with a TWIG in its mouth, while flying a MIG, and I said, “See, the PIG is in the MIG, with a TWIG.” feeling like I was replicating Dr. Seuss.

The boy laughed, picked up a crayon, and began quickly drawing all sorts of things. Each picture that he drew, I labeled in English, and he was quite willing to repeat the English words after me. “Wow he said, if school was this much fun I wouldn’t mind going!”

How about you?
Were you forced to learn in a specific manner in school? Are you perhaps today forced to learn in a specific manner at work?
Does anyone acknowledge that you are a talented learner?

Every teacher, parent, and leader, needs to realize that each human being has their own unique way of learning and excelling. When we lose sight of this, children come to dislike school, and adults come to dislike their jobs, partly because they come to believe that something is wrong with them. What a great disservice to humankind!

Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to foster school and work environments that adapted to people, rather than forcing the people to set aside their natural learning abilities!

Please take a moment and consider…
You have your own unique and high quality way of learning.
How can you better support yourself to be all that you truly are?

One person’s garbage can be another person’s good fortune

Do you ever feel somewhat depressed because your life isn’t working as you would like? Here is a wonderful story that can help you to understand that life is always presenting you with opportunities to succeed.

Horinouchi Kyuichiro is a Japanese man who went from being a complete business failure, to becoming the president of a $100 million business empire.

While still in his early thirties, Horinouchi ran his family’s business totally into the ground. Bankrupt, shattered, and ashamed, he got in his car, drove away, and deserted his family and his creditors. For months he lived on the streets amongst other homeless people, and spent many hours pondering his seemingly sad fate.

With lots of time to think, he came to realize three things:

1. He previously had no concept of what would bring him joy in life.
2. “Quality of life” was a term he hadn’t understood.
He had been obsessed with “success” and he thought that with enough money to spend, the quality of his life could be purchased.
3. The more he strove for material wealth, the more he found himself to be spiritually bankrupt.

With winter fast approaching, Horinouchi was wandering about aimlessly one day and came upon a broken kerosene heater left in the garbage. Horinouchi had always enjoyed fixing things and he impulsively decided to take the broken heater back to his car and repair it. By the time evening rolled around a ration of kerosene had been bought and he and a small flock of his homeless friends basked in the warmth of the rejuvenated heater.

As Horinouchi sat there, he realized not only had he enjoyed doing the repair work, but he also very much had enjoyed giving the heater a chance at a second life. In that moment he vowed to give himself a shot at a second life as well. Little did he realize that his personal desire to start all over again, would spawn a wonderful rebirth for many others as well.

If you stay in Japan for some period of time you will be amazed at the quantity and quality of household goods that get discarded. You can easily find working TV’s, heaters, toasters, CD players, and computers. People used to believe that the Japanese would never buy such discarded goods because they would feel that they smelled strange and seemed dirty. Horinouchi proved everyone wrong!

He rekindled his entrepreneurial spirit by focusing on doing what he truly enjoyed – fixing things, and recycling goods rather than adding to Japan’s already huge mound of garbage. This time around he realized that by focusing on quality of life and job satisfaction, he would likely achieve financial stability as well. Slowly, he built up a business of collecting, repairing, and reselling merchandise that had been thrown in the garbage.

As fate would have it, Horinouchi established his recycling business at the perfect moment – just as the Japanese economy began its meltdown. As numerous businesses failed, “all of a sudden” people became quite open to saving money by buying second hand goods. With Horinouchi having made the vow to reclaim his life, it seemed like the Universe was pitching in to fully support him.

Eventually he was able to save enough to open his own store, and the rest as they say, is history. Today he has more than 200 franchised stores, with gross sales of more than $100 million a year, and a whole raft of new businesses in the early planning stages.

How about you?

Would you like to reprioritize and recycle your life, by focusing on what brings you the greatest joy?

If you stay sensitive to ALL of life’s offerings, you just might find the key to your success lays hidden in a pile of high quality “garbage”!

Can a truly happy person ever really be “unsuccessful”?

The power and beauty of an ugly duckling- What is your element?

How do you perceive of yourself as a person? Consider the three different and separate domains a duck inhabits, and you will come to understand what it means to be in your element.

Certainly the phrase “ugly duckling” must have been coined by someone watching a duck waddle around on land. If indeed “waddling” is the only thing a duck could do, I imagine they might feel more than a tiny bit embarrassed and awkward. One thing would be certain. They could never win the 100 yard dash, if the competition was opened up to include all the rest of the animal kingdom.

Have you not also had the chance to see a duck slip into the water and effortlessly glide past, as if they might be sightseeing? The moment they make contact with the water they appear to be more elegant and serene. All of a sudden they seem to belong; to be in their element. If you had not previously seen them waddling, it would be hard to imagine they had even an ounce of awkwardness.

Even if ducks inhabited only these two domains the change we perceive in their presence and power would be exceptional. But the real moment of truth in understanding “duckness” comes when they heed the call of the wild, and lift off into the sky. Instantly you understand they embody a set of design criteria that was not previously evident, and their power and beauty is a sight to behold. Now the term “ugly duckling” is hard to comprehend.

Who a duck is, and how they are in the world, changes radically depending on the domain they are inhabiting. Are you not very much the same? In some domains you excel, and in other domains… well let’s face it, you waddle.

But please understand something very important, and hold this knowledge close to your heart. Not only does your waddling not detract from your ability to fly, in some mysterious way, it helps you to fly even better.

Who you are is always changing. And at the same time, who you are is always staying the same. Keep in touch with your ability to fly, regardless of where you are or who you are with. You have been designed to prevail and excel. Your grace, power, and beauty are inherent.

Perfect Imperfections

Have you ever caught yourself sitting around thinking that if you were “just” a bit different when it comes to this or that, you would be so much more desirable, wealthy, or good looking? Such conversations can seem so believable while actually being so destructive. What would your life be like if you appreciated your imperfections as the signature of your soul?

On a recent afternoon I went to a pottery shop outside of Tokyo, and happened to meet the potter who had stopped in to check on her staff.

After looking around the shop I invited the owner over and we chatted. The first thing she talked about was how a potter never knew what was going to wind up coming out of the kiln. Each kiln opening she said, was somewhat like Christmas morning. Sometimes you got many wonderful gifts, and sometimes you wound up with coal in your stocking. Like when most of the pieces explode in the kiln due to severe changes in atmospheric weather conditions. It is the serendipity she said, that makes the work so magical. “It helps you to stay humble, and you learn to surrender to and accept the unknown,” she said.

Next, she talked to me about design and functionality. Topics important to most all potters. “No sense in having a good looking piece that is awkward to use, and no sense having a boring looking piece that is highly functional.” she said.

Since I was definitely going to buy something, I picked out six pieces to choose from, set them on the counter, and asked the lady to tell me a bit about each piece.

“Let me share with you how I recognize the hoped for imperfections in my work,” she said, “By talking about three of the pieces you have interest in.”

“Notice with this first piece how the glaze is not of consistent thickness over the inside surface. I tried the best I could to smooth out the glaze,” she said, “But this is a very tough glaze to work with.”

“Nonetheless, for me, it is the inconsistency of the glaze that makes this piece so interesting.” she said. “It is the inconsistency that makes for the range of color that the glaze exhibits in this piece.”

“With this next piece you notice that the bowl is not fully round in shape. I am a small woman, and this is a large piece for me to throw on the wheel. In fact it is the biggest piece I am currently able to throw. I love making some this size, because these bowls really test my limits. There is a certain tension present when the shape goes out of being fully round, and this is what draws me to this piece.”

“Finally” she said, “With this third piece you will notice that the price is considerably less than the other pieces.”

“It is a good piece of work,” she said, “but I feel it is a bit ‘too good’ and thus looks like it could have been machine made. That is why the price is considerably cheaper.”

“The shape is perfectly round, and the glaze flows evenly over the entire pot, and thus the piece does not have a sense of uniqueness. I have stopped making this shape and size because I know how to make them all too well. When they come out this perfect I feel like the soul of the pots get left in the kiln.

She bowed ever so much, and said “Would you like some tea? I have some locally grown strawberries, and it is always best to eat them at this time of year, with a warm cup of tea.”

Whether you consider yourself to be “perfect” or not, is an important topic for most anyone that would like to live a happy life. It seems to me that many if not most people, feel they are somehow lacking or imperfect. Because of their belief, they spend a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of anxiety, trying to achieve a goal that moves further away with every accomplishment.

For instance, you lose quite a lot of weight and now you feel that the skin on your face seems to be hanging in a strange way. Or you finally get enough money to buy a new wardrobe, only to find that the fashion for the upcoming season is radically different than what you just bought at a discount. I have a young friend who got his hair cut short for a job interview as an in-store male model, only to find his potential boss sitting there with his hair in a pony tail.

Is it really that life is unfair, or is the problem simply that we are often chasing an image of ourselves that is somehow not all that real or realistic?! Do you try to make it appear like you have no flaws? Or do you relish how such flaws add to your uniqueness? I find in my own life, it is so important to go beyond the oppositional thinking of right or wrong, good or bad, and in the process, accept, and fall in love with, who I really am.

For example:
I truly believe that I have a fair share of people friendly qualities, and yet I know that I still also can be harsh at times. I know that I can be entertaining and intriguing, and that does not stop me from also being boring at times. I am a little bit of everything, and not all of any one thing. I try to understand myself as both/and, rather than either/or. I try to understand myself from an aesthetic that comes from my own heart, and not from the advertisements I see on TV.

The more I stop trying to be perfect, the more I discover just how perfect I already am. Does this sound a bit egotistical? I am talking about the perfect imperfections that the potter sees in her pots. She strives to maintain the soul of what she is making, by insuring that her pots don’t become so perfect that they appear machine made.

I remember watching not too long ago, an interview with Robert Redford. The interviewer wondered out loud, since Redford was getting older, wouldn’t he want to have some cosmetic surgery. Redford looked a bit surprised by the question. He looked intently at the interviewer, and then said, “Cosmetic surgery? Oh my god no! I wouldn’t want to erase my soul from my face. I would rather like to think there is something about me that is somehow unique. I don’t want to look like who I used to be. I want to look like who I am. ”

How about you? Any chance that you are sometimes trying to cover up your perfection, in an attempt to appear perfect?

There is nothing more special than simply being yourself.

And realizing that any subtraction OR addition,

Would simply take away from who you really are.

Your soul has a signature.

Don’t erase it and replace it with someone else’s calligraphy.

Tsunami: Bringing Forth a New Wave of Hope

Has the huge tsunami in Japan had a similar affect on you personally, as it did on much of Asia? Has any of what you believed in been washed away, shattered, or destroyed?

Has the recent tsunami scared you more or less than 9/11?

Or, perhaps the recent tsunami has even led to a deepening of your faith?

I don’t want to seem uncaring, or just downright impervious to feeling, but as horrific as the recent tsunami onslaught was, I think and feel that the waves also brought along with them, a huge surge of rejuvenation, “life”, and a heightened awareness and compassion by humankind. I think we have been awoken to just how much death and suffering there is in the world, regardless of what we see and don’t see on major news programs.

My experience is that every horrible occurrence holds the seeds for new hope and life. Tremendously heart wrenching things take place in the world. Tremendously heart wrenching things have taken place in my own life. Coming to terms with what happens, offers us a tremendous opportunity to start out fresh. Beginning all over again, but from a new space and time. I can say for sure, that every “tragedy” that has occurred in my life, in the long run has added to the quality of my life, and my connection to Spirit. I can say this with heartfelt conviction, and not simply with a passive smiling face. The most challenging moments in our lives, can invariably also be the most rewarding.

The attacks on the World Trade Center were horrendous. More than three thousand people were killed, the hearts of Americans in particular, were shaken, and most of the world was mortified. Americans in particular were alerted to the fact that “we” were facing a wave of terrorism that would not likely be easily contained.

Three years after 9/11, and after billions of dollars spent on protection, we knew that we were still not safe, but at least we were comforted by the fact that airport safety personnel were now confiscating our nose hair clippers prior to boarding, and that such weapons of minor destruction (WmD) could no longer be used to attack the principles of freedom, democracy, and capitalism.

Three years after 9/11 and after billions of dollars spent on protection…
In a way that neither the extreme right nor extreme left of the political spectrum had envisioned…
All of humankind, and even Nature itself was attacked by a new wave, of terrorism.
By a primordial force stronger than the passion and emotion that any of us can hold in our hearts.

This seeming terror attack killed roughly SIXTY FIVE TIMES more people than were killed in the Trade Towers. The numbers are staggering. The loss of life, the disease, the pain of those who literally had loved ones wrenched from their grip, is also staggering. Beyond what any of us can logically comprehend. And way beyond the fear that some of us might harbor in regard to mortal terrorists attacking “our” country.

One huge question seems to be in need of an answer here.

Who will be responsible for making the world a better place, after the tsunami?

In some fundamental way, I hope that the faith and understanding of each person left unscathed “personally” from this disaster, has been shaken. That due to Nature’s massive housecleaning, we will all find new ways to rebuild and embrace the sanctity of life, as well as embracing the hearts and aspirations of those we deem to be our enemies. That due to this primordial shift in what we know to be Planet Earth, we will all have an equally primordial shift in our concern for and connection to, the heart of God, and the living Spirit of all Life.

We have been awakened…
To the destructive,
And to the creative forces of Life.
Now, is the time to commit.
To take some responsibility,
For sharing the workload,
Of making the world,
A more humane,
Caring,
Place to live in.

Please do not miss this important opportunity.

God is talking.

Are you listening?

People are in need. Please contribute on a weekly basis.

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.

Wouldn’t it be great, to be as hardy as a weed?!

Life is always ready to teach us a special lesson of some sort or another, if only we would take the time to notice and learn.

The street I live on in Tokyo is so narrow, that cars can barely traverse from top to bottom. Because of this, a system for lining up everyone’s bicycles on one side of the street is necessary and important. My wife, my daughter, and myself, park our bicycles across the street in front of my neighbor’s house. To me it seems unfair for my neighbor to have all this clutter in front of his house, but so be it. My neighbor’s house sits one foot nine inches from the curb. Pretty cozy, isn’t it?

Eight years ago, an innocuous looking weed-tree began growing right next to where I park my bike. You might think that a single weed-tree growing where my bike sits is not a big deal but let me explain.

This little weed-tree started life in a humble manner, sprouting up in a crack between the sidewalk and the wall. Initially it seemed too trivial to pay attention to or pull out, and initially I even cheered it on while marveling at what a hardy pioneer it was.

The little monster grew quite rapidly from day one, and after about six months it was wrapping itself around the front wheel of my bike and birds were coming to rest on it. All of this activity led to bird droppings on my bike seat, which led me to take out my pruning scissors and cut the darn thing about six inches above ground level.

Ignoring the weed in the first place was my first mistake. Cutting it down six inched above ground level was my second. It grew back with a vengeance! In no time at all it had more branches than before, and the base coming out of the crack became more tree like. Foolishly, I was lax again in my approach, and within a couple of months, bird droppings started winding up on my bike seat again.

This time around, needing hedge clippers to get the job done, I cut the weed-tree down as close to the sidewalk as possible, and I must say that I had a sense of “Good riddance!” when I did so.

Well, I think it was the very next morning, or two days at the most, when I went outside to find the bloody thing sprouting new growth. This time I quickly dug away at it with a small shovel, but I couldn’t unearth it, and sure enough, new growth quickly answered the call to arms.

At this point I was beginning to concede a shift in the balance of power. Regardless of my superior education and specialized negotiation skills, the weed-tree was prevailing.

What to do?

I knew by now that there was only one viable course of action. First, I found a new place to park my bike. Next, I went out and purchased some plant food and liberally watered and fed the weed-tree every day. My little beauty grew gloriously and I soon began to lovingly trim it into a “bonsai” shape!

Some years later it is looking truly gorgeous!

Two questions come to my mind, and I wonder if they come to yours as well.

1. What is it that makes weeds so incredibly strong and resilient, while other cultivated plants often so easily wither away and die?

2. Can a weed that is nurtured, praised, and pruned, still be considered to be a weed?

2. Isn’t life much grander once we realize that so much of what goes on is not under our control?

I only hope my spirit, can be half as strong as the tree that has offered itself to me.

The Web of Life

The web of life is always there, ready to teach us a “special” lesson of some sort or another, if only we would notice.

One of my very first days visiting Katmandu Nepal, a shopkeeper and myself sat drinking tea on the steps of his shop, and a beggar soon appeared. He looked to be anywhere from thirty to one hundred years old, he had long scraggly grey-brown hair, and he was barefoot and wearing a filthy garment that looked like a bed sheet that had not been washed for an awfully long time. On top of this garment he was wearing a suit jacket! He had beautiful piercing dark brown eyes, and he smiled in an inviting manner as he asked us for alms. The shopkeeper gave him the equivalent of about one cent. The man smiled and bowed, made one last gesture towards me, just to make sure that I did not want to add to his riches, and then he was on his way.

“Do you know about “karma” the shopkeeper asked?

“In the West, perhaps you call it destiny. We are all connected to each other in some way and the life we are living now is the result of how we have lived in other past lives.” I nodded and said I was familiar with the concept.

“If you give alms of any significant amount to beggars, you intertwine your karma with theirs, and their fate will be dependent on your fate. If you do give, only give a cent or two so that your karma and their karma remain separate. If you give more than that, please know that you are not performing a random act.” I nodded and thanked him for his sage advice.

A week later, walking with a Nepali friend, we came across a woman squatting alongside a very busy road, as she prayed and begged. Her face showed obvious scarring to her eyes and ears. Such scarring usually takes place for various religious reasons, and is not totally uncommon. I was attracted to the energy of this woman and we stopped to converse with her. It turned out that she was totally blind and partially deaf, and my friend had to scream in order for her to hear him. Without her asking I gave her about one dollar and we were quickly on our way.

After that I saw this woman almost every morning and I started giving her two or three dollars each time we met. When I left Nepal for the first time I sought her out with my friend, and had him scream to her and tell her I was leaving, but that I would be back some time in the future. I gave her about twenty dollars that day to help tide her over.

On the last day of my second stay in Katmandu I brought my friend with me again, to tell my beggar friend I would be leaving the next day. There she was crouched down on the noisy, crowded street as she prayed. We approached her, walking amongst boisterous children, busy adults, and livestock with clanking bells around their necks. When we were still about ten feet away she turned towards us, smiled with her scarred eyes and as we reached her she said “Namaste.” Before we could crouch down and scream a reply, the woman asked my friend to thank me for my kindness. “How did you know it was us?” he asked.

“I can always feel the warmth of a kind hearted person.” she said.

I think of her now, and hope in some small way, I might have eased her suffering, if only for a moment, as much as she has eased mine.

Where do “I” begin and end?

Today, I am inviting you to explore the boundaries of “self.” I ask you to ponder where “I” begins and ends. What is part of “me” and what is outside of “me”? Who and what is “you”? What is “us” and what is “them”? If I was to show you a picture of “me” standing in a crowded room of friends and family, and ask you to draw a line around “me” how would you do so? Would you simply draw an oval encompassing my frame from head to foot? What if I showed you a picture of me out in nature. Would you draw a line around “me” taking in as little sky as possible?

When you think of “your self” does your definition of self include sunlight, potable water, food, a certain range of temperature and humidity, and air to breathe? Most likely you don’t think of your “self” in quite this manner, but why not? If any of these all important elements are not present, “you” will soon cease to exist. You can’t live without sunlight and water, but sunlight and water can live without you! Man needs nature. Man’s very life depends on nature. But nature does not need or depend on man for life. Unless we say in this modern day and age, that nature depends on man to not destroy it, and man so often seems like he could care less.

When we say that an action/corporation/product is ecological we refer to how it supports the interdependence of all living organisms within an environment, which is itself a living organism. When we destroy any part of our natural environment we destroy a part of ourselves, because our personal ecology is fully dependent on the ecology of the natural elements that surrounds us.

I ask you again, “Can you live without potable water, oxygen, food, and sunlight? Can you live if the temperature and humidity of the earth’s atmosphere was to change by more than about 15% on average? Can you live without depending on the natural elements for your life? Why is it that people in the industrialized world tend to label as “primitive” those cultures that teach that man and nature are inseparable, when indeed this is the case?

All of life requires an ecology, a balance, a conservative and corrective interplay between elements and energies. Every living system needs to be able to self correct, and every living system depends on elements outside of “itself” in order to maintain “itself.” None of us live as separate entities depending only on our own will and intelligence.

Lately most human beings tend to treat the natural environment as a disposable item like a paper napkin or a pair of shoes. We use nature as a convenience item, or we use nature as a way to make money, and then we move on when we deplete the natural resources in a given area. Some people even treat their relationships with other people in a similar manner, and it is not all that surprising, if you really think that “me” is fully contained inside the boundaries of your own body.

When we disrespect nature we disrespect and misunderstand “me.” When we are confused about who and what “me” is, it is that much easier to disrespect and misunderstand others. Just like human beings, no country is separate and complete unto itself. I hope that we will come to understand that caring for nature means caring for “me.” That caring about “me” means caring about you. That caring about my country means caring about your country. That caring about “us”, adds to the quality of all of life.

A small piece of carpet can add to your self-confidence

Although many human beings might feel miffed by the thought, there is a profound set of similarities amongst all mammals, and especially between dogs and humans.

Have you ever noticed how the way you feel about yourself sometimes depends on whether or not you get an external confirmation of your value? The same is true for dogs. Dogs and humans both have a “primary identity” that determines perception of the world, behavior, and one’s sense of self worth. Let me explain how my teacher nurtured a positive primary identity in the dogs he trained.

My teacher’s first rule was to “Treat your students with firm yet gentle kindness and endless patience.” No matter what the dog did (especially with puppies) he would calmly and gently, without any trace of annoyance, let them know when their behavior was not what he wanted.

His second rule was “Consistently foster and support a primary identity of love, acceptance, and protection.” My teacher used to say, “Never tell the dog that s/he is “bad” or “stupid”. If you tell your dog he is bad, he will start to feel bad. Once your dog is feeling bad, he will start to act bad. And all the dog will really be doing, is confirming what you have been telling him!” “Don’t confuse the primary identity of the dog, with the dog’s behavior. No matter what happens, your dog is a “good dog.” And sometimes your “good dog” will have lousy behavior. “Good boy, good dog, don’t gnaw on the table leg.” “Good boy, good dog, don’t you dare lift your leg on those curtains!” “No matter what happens, it is very important for your dog to know that his primary identity never changes, regardless of his behavior.” “If you think in terms of “good dog” now “bad dog” later, your affection for your dog will change like the weather and he will become confused, and not know who he really is.”

The third important rule in dog training is to “Teach by example.”
If you want your dog to be strong and calm, then you must be strong and calm in your dealings with him. If you want the dog to love you and live for the opportunity to protect you, then you need to teach love by example. You don’t ask the dog to love you, you don’t expect the dog to love you just because you feed him and give him shelter. The dog winds up loving you as a natural reaction to your love for him. The dog comes to understand his own heart, through the experience of your heart.

The fourth rule he called “The length of the leash.”
In the beginning, it is very important to not let the leash be either too short and restrictive, or too long and overly allowing. You need to be able to gauge and sense the dogs understanding of what you would like him to do, in relation to what he would like to be doing, at any given moment. Too restrictive and the dog feels coerced. Too loose and the dog has no idea what you want. And it is important to occasionally let the dog do what HE wants to do, even when this is somewhat counter to what you would like him to do. This is crucial to building relationship. In the end, you want to take off the leash completely, and let the dog be, with his own sense of right and wrong.

The meaning of any act or verbal communication, can only be fully understood by taking into account the specific context that such behaviors are performed in. Does this make clear sense? If we take the phrase “I love you.” the meaning of these words will vary greatly depending on whether I speak them to my wife, my daughter, my parents, or the woman that lives next door. If I stand up and start undressing in my bedroom, this will be considered completely normal behavior. If on the other hand I stand up and undress in front of the crowd during the Rugby World Cup, I am likely to be arrested and escorted away. The act of “undressing” has no clear meaning, unless we identify the location/environment/context, where the undressing is done.

Our “primary identity” on the other hand, is considered to be the identity we have regardless of the context we are in. It is the identity that we carry with us everywhere. Our primary identity doesn’t change with the weather, and it doesn’t change depending on praise, criticism, or being ignored. When you can bring a self affirming primary identity with you as you enter into various new and challenging situations in life, you will discover that you live with a greater sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.

My dog training teacher had a very fascinating way of helping the guard dogs he trained, to feel respected, protected and loved, regardless of the situation/context they were in. Here is how he accomplished this. First of course, he started out by treating his dogs with love and respect, and by showing them an infinite amount of patience as they were learning. This of course is crucial. Then, the next thing he did was a true stroke of genius. He would cut a small piece of carpet for each dog he trained. He would place the carpet in the dog’s sleeping area, for him to lie on each night. He would also take this carpet during the day and set it down in various locations, and sit the dog on the carpet, as he praised the dog for being good. Whenever he moved to a new location, he would have the dog stand up, and he would pick up the carpet and carry it to the new location, set it down, sit the dog down, and again, praise the dog for being a “good boy.” Soon the piece of carpet took on the distinct odor of the dog, and my teacher said that this led the dog to feel “at home” when sitting on the carpet. Next, my teacher would teach the dog to pick up the piece of carpet himself, and carry it to wherever they were going. The dog would then set the piece of carpet down when they stopped, and sit on top of it, with my teacher all of the time praising him for being a good dog. Now my teacher said, “The dog begins to feel that he truly belongs in every place that he travels to, and no matter where he goes, he receives my love and appreciation. Soon the dog takes on this love and appreciation as the core of his primary identity.”

And I ask you now, if this strategy works so brilliantly with dogs, would the same basic strategy not work just as well with human beings? Ask youself, “What is the small piece of carpet you carry around with you wherever you go?” “Would your life not be very different if you changed your piece of carpet to one of love and appreciation?”