Tag Archives: stress management

Becoming part of the community

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simple, but not easy…

Please scroll down and read today’s story.

Becoming part of the community

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

The woman with a broken arm

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

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

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

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

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

The woman with a broken arm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please come and visit some time!

In Community,
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Ultradian Rhythms and Peak Performance States

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

Today I want to talk about transitions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s Learning

Podcast_Life_Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast - Attune to your Ultradian Rhythms

In Community,
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Attune to your Ultradian Rhythms and maximize your potential

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Life ToolsWhen you attune to your Ultradian Rhythms you learn how to go with the flow of energy your body produces over the course of every day. This will enable you to work smarter, without needing to work harder. This will be the last podcast for a while for Seishindo. We may come back in the future if there is enough interest.

Episode Outline:

Important Points:

  • In our last two podcasts we talked about how to fall asleep easily and how to wake up and get out of bed feeling ready for the day ahead. Both of these topics- sleeping and waking, deal with recurring rhythms that take place on a daily basis, and these daily rhythms are known as Circadian Rhythms. Recurrent cycles that are repeated once every 24 hours.
  • One other cycle is known as Infradian Rhythms. Infradian rhythms are recurrent cycles that have time periods that are longer than a day. For instance, the phases of the moon, a woman’s menstrual cycle, seasonal changes and breeding patterns.
  • A third important rhythm that governs our life is Ultradian Rhythms. Ultradian rhythms are recurrent periods of time repeated more than once a day, regardless of whether we are asleep or awake. For instance, bowel activity, release of hormones, and cycling back and forth between mainly using either our right or left brain hemisphere to direct how and what we think.
  • Often we tend to not pay attention to our Ultradian Rhythms, and when we do so, stress and ineffective activity is sure to follow.
  • Each and every one of us, as well as the Universe we live in is involved in a life that is rhythmic and cyclical and tuning into these rhythms will increase the quality of your life.
  • Every hour and a half or so we each need to take a rest break and give our system the chance to rest. When we don’t follow our Ultradian cycles and rest, we get tired and lose our mental focus, tend to make mistakes, get irritable, have accidents, and feel stressed. Taking a break allows your MindBody to recover, rest, reenergize, and revivify itself.
  • Better weight management can also be attained by paying attention to to your system, because eating in synch with your ultradian rhythms will change the way you eat, and how much you eat. Stay away from eating when you are feeling stressed and or tired. When you follow your Ultradian Rhythms you will have less feelings of cravings.
  • When you follow your rhythms, you will be less irritable, and better able to listen to others. You will be feeling more “in synch” with yourself which will lead you to be more in synch with others.
  • When a person’s rhythms are paid attention to and medication is taken at the right time of day, people need less medication to get the same or better results than in more usual situations.
  • During the course of an 8 hour workday most people will experience 4 or 5 peak periods when they are at their best in regard to making decisions, planning and staying on task in general. If you want to work smarter rather than harder, and actually get more done, then you need to take breaks every 90-120 minutes, depending on your system.
  • And of course, you might likely want to know more about your colleagues and their rhythms. If you are a morning person and your colleague is an afternoon person, then you might want to create a generative compromise.
  • And in regard to meetings- If you have any control over the meetings you attend, try and not have any meetings that last longer than 90 minutes. Meetings that last longer tend to lose steam and wind up with less clear cut well thought out decisions.
  • You might be surprised to learn that the way you think has a good deal to do with which one of your nostrils is the most open at any given time. Your left nostril is mainly responsible for supplying oxygen to the right hemisphere of your brain. Your right nostril is mainly responsible for supplying oxygen to the left hemisphere of your brain. Your nostrils cycle back and forth over the course of every day, in what is known as a Nasal Cycle, and these cycles can be between 2.5 to 4 hours per cycle, which will more or less be in line with your ultradian rhythms.

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Wake up feeling refreshed and energized

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s Learning

Podcast_Life_Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast - Wake up feeling refreshed and energized

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Wake up feeling refreshed and energized

Play

Life ToolsWaking up feeling ready for the day ahead is one of the most important activities you can engage in. In this podcast, we teach you how to wake up feeling rested and energized by focusing on the positive aspects and relationships in your life.

This tool is one part of the Seishindo Stress Management program. After a brief introduction, the podcast will play the verbal guidance (no music) of the exercise, and then Charlie gives a debrief of why this program is effect and different from other programs. To learn more about the premium version of this program which contains the music and the downloadable files, please click the button below:

learn-more-button

Highlights:

  • Time management skills is a life management skill that can help you in every area of your life. The weaker your time management skills are the more you will have on your mind when you go to sleep which lease you to be more unsettled and less ready to get on with your day when you wake up. So, good time management is very definitely a stress management skill.
  • Often, for many people, if they have difficultly in waking up and getting up, it is because they have not had a good night’s sleep. The easier it is for you to fall asleep, the easier it will usually be for you to wake up.
  • When it is time to wake up, if your head is filled with tasks that you don’t enjoy or relationship that are problematic, you won’t want to get up and face the day.
  • So, it is best to spend a few minutes when you first wake up and before you get out of bed to take a few minutes and think about the circumstances and relationships in life that you are thankful for. When you do such thinking, you will feel more energized.
  • To use the tool, best to set it to start playing about 15 minutes before you actually need to get up.
  • If you listen to this record at a time when you aren’t about to get up, just have a listen now as a preview and don’t be operating any heavy farm equipment 🙂 or doing anything else that requires that you are alert and paying attention.

Debrief (after listening to the exercise):

  1. What’s the purpose of thanking people you know and care about? It is important to keep in mind the people and circumstances in your life you are thankful for because this helps to significantly balance out the worry and stress you might have.
  2. Should we use this exercise every day or only on days we might feel we need a bit of extra help? Do this exercise as many times as it takes to make the overall process habitual for you.
  3. How is the exercise in this podcast different than the one in the Stress Management Program? The premium exercise in the Seishindo Stress Management program comes with some very gentle music playing in the background and makes the whole process more engaging. It makes a 2D experience into a 3D experience.

This is one part of the Seishindo Stress Management program. More information can be found here. The Before Sleeping exercise can be found at: http://seishindo.org/product/upon-waking/.

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An interview with Stephen Gilligan – Part 2

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s Learning

Podcast_Life_Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interview with Stephen Gilligan – Part 2

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Life Tools

We finish our interview with Stephen Gilligan, Ph.D, a leader in the field of generative psychology, and learn his thoughts on how we can live a life that is less stressful and thus more emotionally fulfilling. Due to the length of the interview, we split our talk into two parts. This is Part 2. If you haven’t listened to Part 1, we highly recommend you start with it by going here.

In this part of the interview, we discuss a variety of topics with Stephen including:

  • Our logical mind has a different “rhythm” than our somatic mind.
  • Good, healthy, enjoyable, and creative functioning is a movement between the two hemispheres of the brain, which act as filters. We need to make sure the relationship between the two hemispheres work for us…and mindfulness can help with this.
  • When we are mindful we are aware of ourselves and our surroundings and experience ourselves “in the moment”. The more we can notice while remaining relaxed, the greater our capacity to live in a generative manner.
  • “”Neuromuscular locking”- This is what occurs when we tense our muscles in response to an experience that we are expecting to not be pleasurable. When we lock up, we greatly inhibit our ability to be solution oriented and creative. Indeed the living of one’s life depends a great deal on creativity and being able to adapt as a situation unfolds. When we lock up our physiology we wind up creating a fear state, and we tend to be reactive rather than proactive.
  • The fear most people have is, that if they open themselves up to a negative experience, they will get sucked into it. People tend to think they have two choices: get rid of the experience or get overwhelmed by it. There is a third way: connect with something more basic than the negative experience and then you have the freedom and security to get curious about it. And from there, you can learn how to engage with your experience and make small incremental changes.  You can actively begin to shift the the experience and how it unfolds in your life.
  • You have three general minds when developing a creative solution: the mind of your body, your verbal/cognitive mind, and a larger sense called your “field mind”.
  • How you engage in your experience makes a significant difference. We are often given “terrible gifts”, but they are gifts nonetheless, IF we work to make them such.
  • With Milton Erickson, he found that whatever life gives you, you can use it in creative ways.
  • Aikido is astonishingly similar to Milton Erickson’s work. You first get out of the way so that you don’t get “wacked” by the attack/negative experience, but then eventually learn how to “join” with it and move it “through” your body.
  • The central principle of all persistent suffering is that one part of a system gets functionally isolated from its larger system.
  • When you go into a “negative problem”, you forget about any positive intention, you shut down in your body, and you are no longer connected to positive resources.

For more information about Stephen Gilligan, you can go to http://www.stephengilligan.com/ .

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An interview with Stephen Gilligan – Part 1

Today’s Musings

Newsletter_rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s Learning

Podcast_Life_Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast - how to change careers

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Interview with Stephen Gilligan – Part 1

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Life Tools

We interview Stephen Gilligan, Ph.D, a leader in the field of generative psychology, and learn his thoughts on how we can live a life that is less stressful and thus more emotionally fulfilling.

Due to the length of the interview, we split our talk into two parts. If you are looking for Part 2, you can find it here.

In Part 1 of the interview, we discuss a variety of topics with Stephen including:

  • A brief overview of Stephen’s work which he calls “Generative Self”, and how we can mindfully and creatively empower ourselves and be present in the moment
  • Stephen’s thoughts on Stress Management and how sustained “neuromuscular locks” lead to stress in our systems, i.e. stress occurs when we stop the flow of life and/or energy moving through us
  • How Mushin Breathing can help a person get into a flow state, helps them reduce “thinking” from their logical mind, and thus can reduce stress
  • Three general filters that we tend to use: somatic filters (how your body is organized), cognitive filters (your belief, intentions, and interpretations), and field filters (how you represent the larger space around you), and how being in a generative state helps you be in connection with each of these filters and thus become more creative
  • Four ways of shutting down: Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Fold (the four “Fs”) — these are the “toxins” that are diluting your consciousness and keeping your from living creatively
  • How coaching and workshops are part of a continuous “path” for improvement and not a “silver bullet” — if you’re not “practicing”, your not going to develop the skills to live a fulfilling life
  • Three positive connections: get a positive intention, get a positive intention to your somatic center, and make sure that you have positive connections to resources in your life.
  • Expanding our concept of “self” by tapping into the resources in our life

We finish our interview in the next episode. For more information about Stephen Gilligan, you can go to http://www.stephengilligan.com/ .

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Overcoming occasional insomnia

Introduction

Podcast_Life_Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Musings…

Newsletter_rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Overcoming occasional insomnia

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Life ToolsWho doesn’t like a nice night’s sleep? Almost everyone, right? Unfortunately, having a restful night’s sleep can be a challenge for many people from time to time. In this episode, we discuss why people don’t sleep well and offer an exercise that can support you in getting a good night’s rest.

This tool is one part of the Seishindo Stress Management program. After a brief introduction, the podcast will play the verbal guidance (no music) of the exercise, and then Charlie gives a debrief about why this program is effect and different from other programs. To learn more about the premium version of this program which contains the music and the downloadable files, please click the button below:

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Theory about how thinking can get in the way of sleeping:

  • Most of the time when people are having trouble sleeping they are thinking about situations that they are not confident about, and they might even be thinking of things that frighten them, or for instance they might be dwelling on a relationship that is not going well.
  • Regardless of what you think about you wind up making pictures in your mind’s eye about what you are thinking about. Usually, when people are having trouble sleeping they are thinking about a task or relationship that they do not feel at ease about. Needless to say when you do such thinking you will not feel like sleeping because the images you make will rile you up instead of calming you down.
  • Sometimes we will be thinking about a task we want to complete. If you are engaged in problem solving, you will not feel like sleeping.
  • Whatever your are thinking about will lead you to have physical reactions that match what you are thinking about. So once again, when wanting to sleep, if you are thinking about anything that is not soothing you will be having physical sensations that lead your system to be activated, rather than calming yourself.
  • When you think about something you are afraid of or really worried about, you will release various hormones into your system. If you are thinking about a challenging situation that you are not at all confident about you will likely release some cortisol into your system which will give you a sense of “fight or flight”. Once again not a great thing to be doing when wanting to sleep.
  • The more you try and stop yourself from thinking the more thoughts you will tend to generate. So one of the worst strategies for attempting to calm your thinking mind is trying to stop yourself from thinking.

Debrief (after listening to the exercise):

  1. How does this exercise work? What makes this tool effective is that you actively engage yourself in slowing down. You are proactive in doing what will help you to sleep. The more you pay attention to your breathing and keep a steady rhythm going, the less you will think about what has been keeping you awake.
  2. Can this exercise be used for anything other than insomnia? For example, taking a short nap or just regaining energy. Yes, this exercise can be used whenever you want to slow down, and slowing down can be a great way to regain your energy. The process of stepping out of your everyday thinking mind is what’s important here. That, and the fact that you will be taking in more oxygen than usual, which will prepare your system for new activities.
  3. What’s the importance of pausing for a second or two after both the inhale and the exhale? Why not just breath in and out like we normally do? Pausing for a second or two on your inhale and exhale will wind up giving you the sense of having enough time to do what is necessary. Similar to pausing a second before responding to a question. When you pause while staying calm, you give yourself the opportunity to respond from a place of greater confidence.

This is one part of the Seishindo Stress Management program. More information can be found here. The Before Sleeping exercise can be found at: http://seishindo.org/product/sleep-and-insomnia/.

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Mushin Breathing- A Japanese technique for lessening stress

Introduction

Podcast_Life_Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

Newsletter_rock

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

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

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Reduce stress in 15 minutes using the Japanese martial arts technique “Mushin Breathing”

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Life ToolsHow would you like to be able to reduce your stress in less than 15 minutes? Mushin Breathing is here to help! Mushin Breathing is an exercise based on the Japanese concept of Mushin. When you experience mushin, you are centered and calm, yet active. At such times your thinking mind and your body are coordinated and act as one. During this exercise, Charlie will guide you verbally to have a “mushin” type experience while specially composed music will enhance and deepen what you are feeling.

Highlights of the Exercise:

  • This tool is one part of the Seishindo Traditional Japanese Stress Management program, which teaches how to managed everyday stress in a more proactive fashion rather than a passive listening exercise.
  • After a brief introduction, the podcast will play the audio portion of the exercise, and then Charlie gives a debrief of why this program is effect and different from other programs. The exercise with the visual presentation can be found at: http://seishindo.org/stress.
  • And beyond playing it for you, we are going to give you an introduction to the exercise first, and then play the full exercise which is about 14 minutes in length.
  • Mushin Breathing is an exercise based on the Japanese concept of Mushin. When you experience mushin, you are centered and calm, yet active. At such times your thinking mind and your body are coordinated and act as one.
  • You do neither too much or too little, as you release all extraneous action and thought. Nothing comes between your thought and your action, and nothing is left over, or undone.
  • During the Mushin Breathing exercise, you will be guided through a process to help you become fully present in the moment by breathing, moving, letting go, and living fully in the here and now. The idea being that…The more often you can let go of your concerns about the past and future, the healthier and more emotionally balanced you will feel.
  • During this exercise, Charlie will be guiding you verbally to have a “mushin” type experience while specially-composed music will enhance and deepen what you are feeling.

Debrief (after listening to Mushin Breathing):

  1. What causes stress in the first place? Usually we experience stress at times when we are not fully confident about what we are needing to do and often this can be because we feel like we might not have enough time to get the job done. And when we lack confidence we tend to limit our breathing and tense our muscles.
  2. What is special about this Mushin Breathing exercise? Mushin Breathing coordinates your thinking mind with your body. When you do so, your overall system works more efficiently and effectively because you are coordinating your whole self. Your movement and breathing work together and you focus on what needs to be done, which leads to your usual internal dialogue to fade away. In a subtle way, it is like the experience you get if you enjoy swimming or jogging. When you exercise you fuel your entire system with lots of oxygen and the movement and the increased oxygen leads you to slow down your thinking mind.
  3. What’s the importance of pausing for a second or two after both the inhale and the exhale? Why not just breath in and out like we normally do? Pausing for a second or two on your inhale and exhale will wind up giving you the sense of having enough time to do what is necessary. Similar to pausing a second before responding to a question. When you pause while staying calm, you give yourself the opportunity to respond from a place of greater confidence.
  4. Any reason for inhaling and exhaling for 6 seconds each time? What is important is to give yourself enough oxygen to fuel your brain so that it can work the most efficiently. Breathing for about six seconds in each direction is what it takes to really make a difference in giving your brain enough oxygen.
  5. Could you tell us a bit about the music? The music is a special part of the program and it has been composed by Henri Roggeman. The music has been aesthetically engineered, and what I mean by that is that the rhythm of the music is set to help people relax, and Henri changes the flow of the music to match what is being talked about. The music is composed to fit “hand in glove” with the spoken words, and thus very different than simply choosing a slow piece of music that runs on its own.

This is just one part of an overall program called Traditional Japanese Stress Management. More information can be found here. The Mushin Breathing exercise can be found at: http://seishindo.org/stress

itune-sub

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

Podcast - how to change careers

Musings…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

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

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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.

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

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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”.

Katsugen Undo on a ball (Video)

This video teaches you the exercise protocol known as “Katsugen Undo” as developed by Haruchika Noguchi sensei. Noguchi Sensei was the originator of Noguchi Seitai. By following the protocol shown you will little by little, release muscular holding patterns and feel more relaxed and “in the moment”.

In simple terms Noguchi Sensei said that we all have a tendency to hold on to excess energy that inhibits us from rebalancing ourselves and thus we inhibit our ability to remain physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.

Give it a try, it really does help!

What to do when facing failure

Introduction

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

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

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

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

 

Musings…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Reframing your relationship to change

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

In Community,
Charlie_Signature_Final


Musings…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours truly,

Tony

Reframing your relationship to change

Play

We look at how to reframe our relationship to change and engage our challenges from a positive, self-empowering perspective. Due to the nature of the topic, this is one of our longer episodes, so we recommend you listen to this a few times in order to fully absorb and understand each step.

Thoughts to Ponder – 7

1. Introduction

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

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

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

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

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

 

Sit quietly and wait for the mist to burn off…

IMG_9893

2. Thoughts to Ponder- 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indecision with the passing of time becomes decision.
Bill Wilson

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

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

Spend some time alone every day.
The Dalai Lama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

 

Thoughts to Ponder – 6

1. Introduction

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

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

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

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Life is an act of metamorphosis…
Crimson_Rose

2. Questions to Ponder 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder – 5

1. Introduction

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

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

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

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

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

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

That_Impish_look

Photo by Ruben Alexander

2. Questions to Ponder 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder – 4

1. Introduction

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

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

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

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Be sure to find the guiding light in your life!

Guilding_light

Photo by Ruben Alexander

2. Questions to Ponder 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Today is yesterday’s pupil.”
Benjamin Franklin

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

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

Is it not our imperfections that make us perfect?
Charlie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder – 3

1. Introduction

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

In community,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Make sure you taste life’s nectar!

Homing_in

Photo by Ruben Alexander

2. Questions to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If not now, when?

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Thoughts to Ponder

1. Introduction

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

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

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

2. Questions to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it really possible to live a life without mistakes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will you do differently after receiving this advice?

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

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

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

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

What is it that makes you, you?

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

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

How is it you would like to be remembered?

Are you working towards building a legacy?

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

What are you most grateful for?

And what else?

And what else?

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

What is your definition of success?

What do you love?

Who do you love?

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

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

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

If not now, then when?

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

Neural Networks

Introduction

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

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

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

I hope you derive value in what you read!

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

Remember to play!

Play_Button

2.The neural networks of emotion and logic

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

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

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

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

How to accomplish this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards,
Charlie_Signature_Final

Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 4

1. Introduction

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

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

Regards,

Charlie

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

taj
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock”- Part 4

Engage your challenges a little bit at a time

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

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

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

So what to do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 3

1. Introduction

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

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

Regards,

Charlie

Slow and steady is usually the best way forward!

snail
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock”- Part 3

The benefits and detriments of habits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 2

1. Introduction

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

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

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

Regards,

Charlie

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

dots
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock”- Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are capable of doing much the same.

Life affirming change is possible!

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 1

1. Introduction

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

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

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

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

Regards,

Charlie

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

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

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 1

Many times, we find ourselves caught up in compulsive behavior. To use a stark example, let’s take a look at what “PubMed Health” says about OCD-
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).
Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety.”

When I look at this definition it certainly describes my behavior at times! And I think we can see that such behavior is often what we engage in when we feel stressed out, insecure, or addictive.

Recent scientific research tells us that compulsive behavior occurs when three different areas of the brain “lock up” and thus fail to act in a solution oriented, life affirming manner. When our brain “locks” we wind up believing that there is no other way to act, than to continue with our compulsion or addiction, regardless of the disappointing results we get. Sound at all familiar? 🙂

The three step locking process
1. You get a sense that something needs to be different, or that something is “not right.”
In short, you feel uneasy, and you don’t like the way you feel.

2. You become anxious and thus strive to change the way you feel.
Your anxiousness leads you to do things like smoke, drink, or eat an entire box of chocolates. (There are of course MANY other examples of compulsive behavior.)

3. Default back to steps 1 and 2.
When the brain is locked up, you don’t get a sense of having really taken care of your anxiety so you engage in steps 1 and 2 over and over again. And you wind up having another cigarette or drink, or another piece of chocolate. You act compulsively because you don’t get feedback that tells you that you have taken care of the situation, and you feel incapable of trying any other alternatives.

A solution to your compulsion IS possible though!

A three step Unlocking Process
1. You get a sense that something needs to be different, or that something is “not right.”

2. You become anxious and thus strive to change the way you feel.
This time around though, you realize that it your compulsive behavior that you need to change and that you need to do something different than usual, that will help you to feel at ease.

Because of the realization that you need to do something different, you engage in an activity that is life affirming and healthy, instead of your compulsive habit. You take a walk in the park, chat with a friend, play with your children, listen to music etc.

3. Upon engaging in an activity that helps you to feel at ease, your anxiety lessens, and you recognize that it is time to place your original concern aside and engage in the rest of what you need to be doing.

Easier said than done?

In the beginning yes, but even a few minutes spent doing something that is pleasing, before diving back into your compulsion, will weaken the strength of your brain lock. And then little by little, you will be able to spend enough time doing what is pleasurable, and find that your anxiety and addictive tendencies subside. As you create an alternative way to act, and thus feel, your brain “unlocks” and you become significantly less compulsive, and feel more at ease.

I am going to be writing more about this process, but I will tell you now that my experience with many clients over the years, leads me to understand the importance and power of unlocking your brain.

Life affirming change is possible, and YOU are capable of making the changes you desire!

All the best to you going forward!

Charlie

The language of your body – Part 1

1. Introduction

It is my hope, that you find my newsletters both insightful and entertaining. Sometimes I focus more on the entertainment, and sometimes more on offering insight.

Today’s newsletter is the first of a two part series, explaining how Seishindo practitioners think about and utilize “the language of the body” when working with clients.

I hope that in some small way, this newsletter leads you to reconsider who you are!
Charlie

butterfly
Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. The language of your body- Part 1

The language your body uses to communicate, is at least as sophisticated, systematic, and complete as the verbal language you speak. The “wiring” for your somatic language begins its development while you are inside your mother’s belly, and it forms the foundation of your verbal language patterns, memories, learned responses, and emotional make-up.

The language spoken and understood by your body, is what enables you to make meaning out of your experience prior to understanding your native tongue. It remains your primary means of understanding your experience, throughout the course of your life.

In her book “Molecules of Emotion” scientific researcher Candace Pert says, “There are receptors (sensing molecules that exist throughout our system) and ligands (substances that bind to the receptors and help to create all of the chemical reactions necessary to run our system) that can be considered to be “information molecules.”

She refers to these molecules as the basic units of a language used by cells throughout the organism to communicate.

In his book “The Second Brain” Dr. Michael Gershon says that neurotransmitters are the “words” nerve cells use for communicating.

These two renowned scientists are telling us that we all “speak,” “listen to,” and understand a primary language that does not depend on our verbal abilities. This “other” language is what in Seishindo we call “the language of the somatic self”, or, “the language of the body”.

The language of your somatic self does not use or require verbal language, although it interacts with it continually, like a music group improvising with a singer, or a horse and rider traversing a path in the forest. This language of your somatic self is a primary communication and information exchange that makes it possible for you to connect to and understand, the workings of your body and brain, your personal sense of “self”, your relationship with others, and the world around you. Somatic language makes it possible for you to make meaning out of your experience prior to learning your native tongue. It is part of the mammalian consciousness that all mammals share. It is intuitive and relational in nature and seems to direct us to join with other life. Just like words are systematically and artfully joined together to form the content of your verbal language as spoken by your cognitive self, the various components of your sensory experience are systematically and artfully joined together to form the language of your somatic self. This language makes it possible for you to intuitively understand and direct all of the massive information exchange your body takes part in, in collaboration with the brain. It is a language of immediate experience as compared to verbal language being a communication of abstractions.

Your body is a tireless worker, attempting to protect and nurture you at every given moment. It is crucial that you learn to appreciate, understand, and heed what it has to say!

Instead of simply agreeing with Descarte and saying, “I think, therefore I am.” I believe you will be much better served by considering this statement as an alternative, “I listen to the communication of my body, in order to better understand who I am.” Living a fulfilling life requires a lot more than just thinking and logic!

Be still, and only listen.
Your body has many life affirming messages that it would like you to understand.
Life affirming messages that are crucial for your health, and emotional well-being.

Warmly,
Charlie

A Description of the Seishindo MindBody Coaching – Part 4

1. Introduction

This is the last in a series of articles describing the concepts involved in Seishindo MindBody Coaching. I hope that what I have written offers you a life affirming way to engage in the world.

If you haven’t read the first three articles in this series, you might want to begin here.

We had a typhoon come by last week, but the weather in Tokyo is beautiful now. This is a pretty time of year, and soon the heat will be upon us full blast!

Regards,

Charlie

forest-thru-the-trees
Photo; Yvonne Rikkenberg

2. A description of Seishindo MindBody Coaching- Part 4

I would like to help you understand that your “symptoms” or “problems” alert you to the fact that what you are currently doing is not working all that well. Every symptom or seeming problem is thus a communication of a positive need for change. As you learn how to trust in your ability to change and prosper, you will realize that your problem is not a problem.

Do your best to understand the emotions you express, while at the same time striving to stay somewhat emotionally neutral. In other words, appreciate and honor your emotional state, while continuing to believe that something life affirming is in the process of unfolding.

As you learn to slow down you will become better able to pay attention to what you do not say or do. “Doing nothing” is a very rich form of communication!

Please stay away from trying to logically understand why you do what you do. because your logical mind is usually not capable of solving the paradox you are grappling with. You will likely need to somehow surprise yourself in the course of discovering your solutions.

When you breathe, adjust your posture, and keep an expansive focus of attention, you will cultivate the ability to rest in your place of “not knowing”. Slow down, stop talking and just feel, as you wait for the answers you have been searching for. This process is similar to waiting for a friend you have not seen in a long time, to arrive on your doorstep.

Surrender to the moment, using your thinking mind to notice everything in and around you. You can breathe and be curious while waiting to receive the solutions that show up.

I will help you get to an experience of “pre-verbal knowing”- Making way for the knowledge and wisdom that is deeper and fuller than what can be described in words.

Every seeming “negative” has a mirror image “positive” aspect. Every weakness you have is also a strength, and every strength a weakness.

You have a “resource state” and this way of being in the world needs to be experienced more so than talked about. When you reside in your resource state you will be oriented towards positive outcomes. When you reside in your resource state you move towards your goal, and what you say and do, matches what you think and feel. This state is ephemeral in nature, so you will find it many times, and also lose it many times.

I want to help you experience that “mind” and intelligence are present in every cell of your body, The whole of who you are is much more than the sum of your parts.

Through the experience of coaching you will come to realize that traveling back to your past memories when wanting to solve a problem, will usually only make you feel incapable of change. I therefore invite you to bring your problems into the present moment, as you have many resources now that were not available to you in the past.

Being engaged in actively finding solutions, is very different than trying to determine “right and wrong.”

As most every successful person knows, failing does not feel good, but you learn much more from your failures than you do from your triumphs. Learn from your past, rather than living in your past.

Every successful search for a solution has a “tipping point” where you start to realize positive change is possible. These “Ah hah!” moments almost always occur prior to knowing what the actual solution is.

You are in the process of needing and desiring to express the fullness of who you are. Slow down, trust in yourself, and trust in the moment. You already have access to everything your heart truly desires!

Regards,

Charlie

A Description of the Seishindo MindBody Coaching – Part 3

1. Introduction

This is the third newsletter in a series that describes the process of Seishindo MindBody Coaching. I am offering this series as a way to support you in being a “change agent” to others who need help. If you have yet to read the first two articles in this series, please go here.

In the last newsletter I said that I wanted to find the most artful way to talk about the process of coaching others, and I asked for some advice. Thanks to those of you who wrote! Your wisdom is very much appreciated. Taking the advice offered, in this newsletter I am going to “talk” to you as if I was taking you through a session with me.

Once again, please let me know what you think about the process, and please offer me feedback!

For those of you fairly new to my writing and style…
The process I describe below, I would only engage in once my client and I had a good comfortable feeling for each other. I would only be suggesting any of what follows if my client was happy to explore such a process with me.

Regards,
Charlie

2. Life as art–A description of Seishindo MindBody Coaching- Part 3

As we begin today, I would like to borrow a concept from Self-relations Therapy, and invite you to use each and every event and experience you encounter, to awaken to the goodness and gifts of the self, the world, and the connections between the two.

So rather than slipping into a place of dismay and frustration because you feel stuck, you can take the role of my client, and imagine you are in the midst of creating a movie about your life. You can consider yourself to be the lead character in this movie, the director, and even the composer of the sound track that will eventually be selling as a CD!

As you begin to approach your challenge as an artist would begin a new project… Slow down and notice the finer points that will lead to creating something heartfelt and poignant. As you begin to try out the lines of your script, speak in a way that allows your words to resonate and fill the space we are in. I encourage you to imagine we are sitting in a theater that has great acoustics. The only audience being just the two of us. I invite you to imagine this theater as a safe environment that is much bigger than your perceived problem. At some point in this process you will begin to hear the difference between when your voice is held back and constrained, and when your voice is resonant, clear, and filled with spirit. When you voice is held back and constrained, the same will be true for your creativity and problem solving skills. When you voice is resonant solutions will start to become more apparent.

Next, attune to the rhythm of your words, as you listen for and feel how your expression reverberates both within you and out into the space around us, both logically and emotionally. I gently encourage you to breathe, relax, and “speak your soliloquy with a calm presence”. I will move with you as a way to better feel the cadence of your words. Then after a short while, please slow down the tempo and simplify what you are expressing. Say and do “just enough”. Less will get you more.

Little by little, as you slow down and simplify, you will begin to move closer to your solution. Little by little, as I get in rhythm with you, you will begin to realize you are not alone in this world. As we build a sense of harmony and trust between us, I will likely offer you some accompanying lines, to enrich your script.

Now is a good time to modulate the outpouring of your energy, and to lessen the intensity of your presentation. I am suggesting that you stay within a certain threshold of expression, so you can keep your whole self engaged, and not feel overwhelmed. This will allow you to tap into resources that are outside of your everyday awareness. The idea is to get energized by the challenges you face, rather than contracting, and tensing your muscles and your thinking mind. You will be able to recruit and utilize more and more of yourself, as you educate and retune your nervous system over time.

At this point I also want to invite you to notice “negative space”. The space between and around the main topic of your conversation.

In photography, negative space is the area which surrounds the main subject in a photo, with the main subject being considered as “positive space”. Negative space defines and emphasizes the main subject as part of a larger whole. It provides “breathing room” and allows for a more balanced perspective. Negative space gives your eyes somewhere to rest and prevents your subject from appearing overly large or out of proportion. Notice how you can change your reaction to your challenge, as you place it in a spacious setting. (See the photos below.)

Here is a close-up picture of a bug with almost no background (very little negative space)
Bug-large

Below is a picture of the same bug, with lots of background (negative space).
Which picture do you prefer?

Even though it is the same bug, does it appear at all different in the two photos?
Bug-small
Photos: Ruben Alexander

At this point you have once again accomplished a lot. So now it is time to rest. You can begin to have a sense of how important it is to express your challenge in an artful manner. Realizing that the way in which you perceive, conceive, and express your challenge very much changes your sense of what is possible. Please, don’t make your challenge any bigger than it needs to be!

Regards,

Charlie_Signature_Final

Stones of Wisdom

1. Introduction

Welcome to all, and especially to the new subscribers that show up every week.

During the last few newsletters I’ve been writing about the theories and principles that Seishindo is based upon. Because of this I’ve been “downloading” lots of scrawling from old restaurant napkins, and from the margins of books.

In reading, I hope you’ll discover a deeper connection to yourself and the wisdom you possess.

Enjoy!

Charlie

2. Stones of Wisdom

Your thoughts have energy,
Energy is a fuel.
Your thoughts, and the energy they manifest, can sustain your life, or weaken it.

The more you talk about what you don’t want; The more you think about what upsets you- The more you feed these circumstances and relationships, with the energy of your thoughts. Whatever you imagine over the course of time, you’ll wind up manifesting.

Your thinking mind creates an energy field
Your thinking mind affects the way you use your body and breathe.
The way you use your body and breathe also creates an energy field.
The melding of these two energy fields is who you are.

Your energy field resonates, and attracts people and circumstances that have a similar frequency,
While repelling those with a significantly different frequency.

Your body, just like the body of a classical guitar, is a resonator.
When you adopt a balanced, relaxed posture, you increase your capacity to be harmoniously in tune. You increase the likelihood of your spoken word being deeply connected to your body and your emotions. At such times, generative change is immanent.

Your body is the seat of your emotions.
When we experience problems, we tend to experience our emotions and our logic as opposites. Like the two poles of a magnet.

The more we experience problems, the more we usually want to move towards one pole and away from the other. To get wildly emotional or rigidly logical.

You need to openly accept and welcome your problems.

“Easier said than done!”
Likely so!
But very necessary nonetheless.

Treat each “problem” as a guest at your door.
Invite each problem that shows up, into your life, and into your heart.

Your problems are your guides, your teachers.
Even though your problems seem to be the opposite of what you want.
Or maybe especially because of this reason!

Whatever shows up in your life that you don’t allow in or accept,
Usually winds up attacking you endlessly.

You see, it’s rarely our problem that’s the problem,
Rather, it’s the fight we create, between seeming opposites that leads to our problems in the first place.

Accept what is, while synthesizing and adapting.
Create a respectful relationship between opposites.
Between what you have and what you want.
Thesis and antithesis, leading to synthesis.

During times of great change, multiple, seemingly contradicting truths, need to be melded into a larger more encompassing whole.
This is the difference between “and” and “but”. The difference between dialogue and monologue. Dialogue and diatribe.

Who were you before your problems manifested?

Who will you be when they no longer exist?

Whatever your answer, be that way NOW!

When your attention is stable, calm, and open focus,
Your body relaxed
And your emotions balanced,
You generate a field of endless possibilities.

Center yourself, recognize your true heart’s desire, and open to the abundance of resources available to you.

The experience of “being centered”

1. Introduction

As I said in my last newsletter, I am shifting my writing for awhile to give you a better sense of the basic principles that make up Seishindo.

I’m hoping that by reading about the basic principles of Seishindo, you’ll deepen your sense of feeling embodied, healthy, and fully alive.

Please write to me, letting me know how this new series of articles reaches you!

Below is an exercise I’ve designed to help you have an experiential understanding of what it means to be centered as we think about it in Aikido. In Aikido practice, when you’re centered you’re said to be “keeping one point”.

Charlie

2. The experience of “being centered”

Can you make an image in your mind’s eye of a monohull sailboat? Perhaps a boat that sits on a large lake, and comfortably holds you and a couple of friends out for an afternoon’s outing.

There’s a mast rising straight up from the centerline of your boat, yes? The mast is meant to be strong, while also being lightweight and flexible.

Chances are as you read these words, you’ll be sitting somewhere.
As you sit, imagine yourself to be a scale model of this sailboat as you make your way through life.

Think of your spine as being similar to the boat’s mast. Strong, lightweight, and flexible.

As you sit facing forward, your boat is facing straight ahead.
Imagine it’s a calm day out, and your boat rocks ever so much.

Depending on your feeling, you can rock your boat from back to front, or from side to side.

Rock your boat in whatever direction feels best to you.

The rhythm of your rocking is meant to be similar to the rhythm of a mother rocking her young baby in her arms.

Feeling this rhythm now in your own body, take three deep breaths as you allow your rocking motion to get ever so much bigger.

Every sailboat of course has a hull. Without a hull there would be no boat..

As you sit there now, imagine that your pelvis forms the structure of you hull, and that the deck of your hull is in line with the top of your pelvic girdle and your navel. The major portion of your hull/your pelvic structure, sits in the water, and your spine is rising straight up from the center of your pelvis.

As you most likely know, every monohull sailboat has a keel at the bottom of the boat’s centerline, and it’s the keel that gives the boat stability. How does the keel accomplish this? Well in very simple terms, the keel is quite heavy compared to the weight of the rest of the boat, and the keel sits below the waterline. It’s the weight of the keel resting at the center of the hull, below the waterline, that creates the stability.

You experience yourself as having a keel when the muscles of your torso are relaxed and your spine is straight, and thus the weight of your torso falls into the lower portion of your pelvis. It’s the weight of your torso resting in your pelvis that creates your keel.
With the top portion of your imagined keel a couple of inches below your navel and the bottom of your keel resting on the seat you’re sitting on.

It’s your keel that keeps you stable, and in terms of Aikido your keel is what we call your “center” or “one point”.

As you’re sitting there now, imagine that the bottom portion of your spine melds with your keel.

Your pelvis rests in the water, and the weight of your keel, your “one point”, sits below the waterline and gives you stability, as your boat gently rocks in the water.

Nothing more to do now, but to engage in an image and the feeling this image gives you.

Your pelvis resting in the water,

The weight of your torso resting in your pelvis creating your sense of a keel,
your center, your “one point”.

And it’s your keel reaching all the way down to the bottom of your pelvis that gives you stability,

With your strong, lightweight, flexible spine connected to your keel.

As you rock gently in whatever direction feels best to you,

Take three deep breaths now,
Having the felt sense of your “center” being in your lower abdomen and pelvis.

As you feel how your rocking motion gives you the sense of being calm, centered, and able to move with the currents and winds of life.

Never underestimate the power of your original self

1. Introduction

Although there is still a tremendous amount of uncertainty regarding the nuclear situation up north, for the most part life in Tokyo has settled back down. Because of the nuclear plants no longer generating power, we will be faced with some extra challenges this summer, but such is life!

The people close to the devastated area in the north are still suffering tremendously, and any further help in the form of donations, is still greatly needed.

Thanks again for all the support people have been offering me.

Regards,
Charlie

2. Never underestimate the power of your original self

As part of my process of writing this newsletter, I have lots of nuggets of information stored in various locations. Today’s newsletter brings together thoughts and experiences I’ve been ruminating on for a while now.

We increase our suffering by failing to appreciate the opportunities and learning our current challenges offers us. There is no life without challenges.

When we attempt to escape from what we find unpleasant, we miss out on the possibility of learning life affirming lessons, and achieving what we most desire. Attempting to move away from what we don’t want leads us to settle for the scraps of life instead of feasting on the meal.

Indeed the more you try to avoid suffering, the more suffering you’ll wind up experiencing. The same is true of illness.

You’ll improve the quality of your life by striving to better understand what’s confusing you, rather than looking to escape from your turmoil.

“Solution” and “problem” are two sides of the same coin. With a solution in hand, there is no problem. Look for the solutions inherent in your current situation, rather than looking to fix what you perceive to be wrong.

Instead of fighting against the seeming competing desires you have, use your whole self to stay cooperatively engaged in your struggle and you’ll find something within you shifts Over time your struggle will be transformed into a life affirming lesson.

Wanting to experience peace of mind is a fine goal to have, if you also realize you’ll sometimes have little choice but to feel distressed. In fact, much of life happens in between the two.

Nothing stays the same forever and thus change is inevitable. Today’s suffering will turn into tomorrow’s happiness, and eventually you’ill surely suffer once again. That’s just the way life is.

Accepting that change is inevitable helps you move with life rather than attempting to hold onto either the “bad” or the “good”. As you open up to the need for change, you’ll find yourself suffering more effectively. Peace of mind is sure to follow!

In Aikido we understand that if we follow the direction of an attack without impeding the attacker, the confusion being expressed will be fully expended and a new, more life affirming relationship can then begin to emerge.

You need some silence and solitude in your life so that you can begin to hear the inner voice of your original self. This is not the voice of your internal dialogue. This is the voice that’s hidden in the depths of your soul, and it speaks to you without words.

It’s your internal chaos that destroys your capacity for inner peace, and not the world around you. Its your internal chaos that weakens the root energy of your life force and the wisdom of your original self. You need to strive to know yourself as you were in the beginning of your life. Know youself as you were as a very young child- Filled with amazement and curiosity.

A happy life is not built upon understanding why. A happy life requires that you live in the midst of uncertainty and do so gracefully. When you’re graceful there’s a beauty that exudes from the way you move and carry yourself, because you do only what’s necessary. Nothing more and nothing less. When you’re graceful there’s a sense of proper proportion, an ideal relationship, between yourself and the rest of life. Between your happiness and your sadness. You sense your life is “just right” as it is, and thus there’s a stillness that permeates your being.in the midst of the unknown.

When you experience grace in the midst of illness, defeat, or other suffering, you’re able to appreciate the small pleasures of life, and each challenge you face serves to strengthen the dreams you hold in your heart.

Fundamentals of Happiness

1. Introduction

My birthday came round again on May 10th and I want to thank all of you who sent me a greeting. Lovely to be held by the group in this way!

My “Eight Essential Questions- Focus on the Life You Desire” is proving to be quite popular. Close to 1,000 people have downloaded it so far, and I’m getting lots of good feedback, including suggestions for future improvements.

The Eight Essential Questions” are meant to help you reconnect your words with your feelings, so you can begin to live with greater clarity and purpose.

If you are interested in receiving the document, please contact me.

Regards,
Charlie

2. Loss is an essential element of success and happiness

I was sitting around having dinner with a few friends, about a month after the big earthquake and tsunami up north of Tokyo.

“Now is the time for the Japanese people to show their true spirit,” Suzuki-san said. “You never really know the heart of another person during good times. It’s not until some form of disaster that you find out what people really believe, and what they base their life upon.

In Japanese culture we are taught to celebrate success in a subdued fashion, keeping in mind that tomorrow brings a new set of challenges. We are taught that success is fleeting and doesn’t last all that long.

As time goes on, I think Japanese people have come to misunderstand the meaning of success, and the happiness it can bring. It seems that these days people confuse success with winning, or being able to say, ‘I am better than others.’. In my mind, nothing could be further from the truth. I believe you can’t really understand success, until you’ve tasted defeat. Loss is an essential element of success and happiness.”

I nodded my head and said nothing, knowing my friend was speaking an important truth.

“You see,” Suzuki-san said, “I grew up as a farmer, and as a farmer you soon learn that a good crop is often followed by a bad crop the following season. Also, as a farmer you share the water used for growing your rice, with all your neighbors. Because each person needs to depend on the good will of another, you can’t celebrate a good harvest unless your neighbors also did well. In our rice growing culture we learned that water and success, are meant to be shared with the entire community. During hard times you also shared your food with your neighbors if they had none, knowing they would do the same for you.

So now, as a nation we need to share with each other once again. Those of us with more, need to give to those who have less. It’s in the act of giving that you feel your connection to others. When you give you offer up thanks for all you have, and realize you don’t live this life as a separate individual.

Times like now help you realize how fleeting success and happiness are. It’s only after losing everything that you can finally fully appreciate how much you had before. A healthy person tends to take their good condition for granted, until they get sick.

These days it seems people don’t really experience appreciation, because they’re always wanting something more. People don’t seem to know what it feels like to be satisfied. I taught my children to not base their good feeling on something that will likely be gone tomorrow. I also taught them to not base their good feeling on what they can buy.

As you’ve heard me say before, I believe losing World War II was a great gift for the Japanese people. A very harsh gift, but a great gift nonetheless, because losing tested the strength of the Japanese soul. We had to reevaluate our culture and discover what this defeat really meant for us. We had to dig deep to find our hearts laying underneath the rubble of the bombings.

And now, I fervently pray we find the courage to accept this earthquake and tsunami as another gift meant to test our spirit. I’m hoping that the coming years are a time for great renewal in Japan.

The Clock is Ticking

How do you react to deadlines? How would you feel if someone said “Hurry up, the clock is ticking and we’ve got to get this completed!”? How well do you cope with stress? Isn’t it amazing to notice how radically your experience of passing time changes depending on the circumstances, with little correlation to the steady flow of time as shown on a clock.

Have you ever sat in a waiting room with a clock on the wall that went “tick tock, tick tock” over and over and over again, until such time that you either wanted to run out of the room, or throw the clock out the window? This kind of experience is especially excruciating when you are waiting for something that you really are not looking forward to, like a treatment from your dentist. In particular, when you are feeling stressed out you experience time distortion. In some instances like when waiting for your dentist, one minute of clock time seems to take forever. At other times when you are working towards a deadline, time appears to slip away without your knowing where it went, and you are left wondering why you are accomplishing so little.

Waiting for a train that is twenty minutes late, when that train is bringing your loved one back to you, is very different than getting to the train station early with your loved one and waiting twenty minutes for the same train to take your loved one away from you. The train is the same, the station is the same, your loved one is the same, and the time on the clock is the same, but somehow, your emotional experience of “twenty minutes” is quite different.

It is important for each of us to understand how the fixed passage of time as measured by a clock, has little to do with our emotional experience of time. Rather than being under the illusion that time rules our life, we will do well to recognize that it is our emotional experience and our mindset that determines how we relate to the ticking of the clock. Restrict your breathing and tense your muscles and time invariably will appear to speed up. You relate to time according to your expectations of what will transpire. Expect that you will be successful and the clock on the wall appears to offer you a bit more time. Expect the worst and you will have difficulty keeping up.

What can you do to have a healthier perspective in regard to time? The first thing you can do is breathe slowly and deeply. When you slow down your body clock, the clock on the wall appears to slow down along with you. The next thing you can do is check in with your body. If you create a feeling of expansion in your body, by aligning your posture and releasing your muscles, time will appear to expand somewhat as well. Furthermore, you can notice your surroundings and extend your awareness out into the space around you. When you extend your awareness to take in the wide range of sights and sounds taking place in your local environment you will also extend your concept of time. Lastly, realize that with any luck, you will have tomorrow to accomplish what you were not able to accomplish today. Every new day, brings new opportunities for appreciating your life and the people you care about.

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.

I am – a Concept of time and identity

“Whatever you believe in today, makes a specific tomorrow that much more likely.”

Learn how to formulate your intentions in a more productive manner. Find out why telling yourself what you want to accomplish, often will take you further away from your goal.

This Practice assumes you have an issue, relationship, or circumstance in your life that you would like to better understand or change, over the course of time. In other words, it assumes you have an intention to somehow be or do things, differently.

Important background points

Talk to yourself in “positive” terms, and with “positive” images.
It is important to think about the unintended message you give yourself when you state an intention, in “negative” terms. For example if you say to yourself, “I want to stop smoking.” You are talking to yourself about smoking, and not about your positive intention of “living a healthy life”. You are inadvertently focusing on what you are wanting to avoid, rather than focusing on what you are wanting to accomplish.

If you state your intention over and over again in negative terms, you will be reinforcing the point that “smoking” is the important issue, rather than instead reinforcing the point that “being healthy” is what you are truly concerned with.

As a further example, think about the pictures you will likely make in your “mind’s eye” if you repeat over and over again, “I want to lose weight.” In order for you to understand the meaning of the words you are repeating to yourself in regard to wanting to lose weight, you will likely create an mental image of your current “overweight” condition. Not a great self image to keep in your mind’s eye when wanting to be, “slim and trim”. When you describe to yourself what you no longer want to do, or how you no longer want to be, you create negative self images that make change and understanding all that much more difficult. A successful athlete would NOT say to herself “I am no longer missing important field goals.” Instead, she would want to state what she DOES want to be doing. “I shoot my field goals with confidence and focus.” These are the words that will give her a positive self image.

Let yourself know in positive terms how you do want to be, and create a positive image that reinforces your desire.

Speak in the present tense
Physicists tell us that time is not really linear as we normally experience it, but rather happening “all at once”. In other words, science leads us to understand that tomorrow does not necessarily come “after” today. With this thought in mind you can consider the wisdom of the following: “Whatever you believe in today makes a specific tomorrow that much more likely to occur.”

When you think about how tomorrow is strongly influenced by what you believe in today, you can see that if you tell yourself “I want to be healthy,” you are reinforcing a belief that you currently are not healthy. Reinforcing such a belief will tend to make the changes you desire that much more difficult to achieve.

This Practice offers you a new time perspective from which to consider learning and changing. It suggests that you consider your intention already accomplished, and go from there. In this way you will be “trying on, like a new suit of clothes” how it is you DO want to be, rather than reinforcing what your currently are not.

If you want to understand yourself better and help yourself to change, you will do best to talk to yourself using positive terms and images based on the “here and now that is timeless”. This gives you the best opportunity to create an image and a felt sense that aids you in your process of self understanding.

One more point:
It is important to keep your “I am” statement simple. In general, the simpler the better.

••••
You will do best to read through the instructions once or twice before actually performing this Practice.
••••

This Practice assumes you have an issue, relationship, or circumstance in your life that you would like to better understand or change, over the course of time.

1. Seat yourself so that you are comfortable, while having the possibility of free and easy movement.

2. Create an “I am” statement.
In order to do so:
A) Consider something about yourself, a relationship, or the world you live in, that you would like to better understand or change.

B) Now imagine you have already achieved the results you desire. Make a statement that describes your new way of being, in simple terms. Remember, you need to phrase your statement in regard to how you feel having already accomplished your intention.

Examples:
Instead of saying “I am no longer arguing with Fred.” you would want to create an “I am” statement something like “Fred and I are good friends.”

Instead of saying “I am no longer anxious.” You might want to create an “I am” statement that says, “I am calm and confident.”

If you are feeling depressed and would like to feel energetic and upbeat, your “I am” statement could be, “I feel energized and enthusiastic.”

Please create your “I am” statement now.

3. Once you have created your “I am” statement, take a deep breath and repeat it slowly and calmly to yourself.

4. Now take another deep breath and repeat your “I am” statement again.

5. Now, slowly take a look around you…. hear the sounds in your local environment…. take a deep breath…. and repeat your “I am” statement once again.

6. If you feel like you need to or want to, please further tailor or edit your “I am” statement now. This ongoing “tailoring” process is sometimes of great importance, because it is likely your understanding of your challenge will change over time.

7. Now take another deep breath and repeat your “I am” statement again.

8. Now, slowly take a look around you…. hear the sounds in your local environment…. take a deep breath…. and repeat your “I am” statement once again.

9. This time take THREE deep breaths and then repeat your “I am” statement once again.

Debrief
How do you feel having made your “I am” statement numerous times?

Many people report feeling somehow “odd”. Others say that they feel like they are lying to themselves. Still other people report feeling a sense of peace and growing confidence. Whatever you do feel is totally fine, because one of the main ideas of this Practice is to support the process of believing in yourself. The benefits of this Practice are received by repeating your statement and “growing into it” over time.

Instead of hoping for a sudden short term change that is lasting, look for small changes in the way you think and feel, over the course of the coming days and months. Lasting change rarely comes along like a thunder bolt.

If you are in an appropriate space, it is excellent to alert the world to your intention, by making your “I am” statement out loud. Making your statement out loud is an excellent way of “growing into” the statement, and feeling comfortable with your new self image as time goes on.

Engage in the process of repeating your “I am” statement, and “tailoring” it as often as you like, whenever you like, over the course of the coming days and weeks. Remember, keep it simple, and you are likely to become more confident in your ability to achieve your goals and desires.

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.

We-dentity – As compared to “I” dentity

Have there not been times in your life when you felt separate from much of the rest of the world? Many people report having felt very much like an outsider during various portions of their high school career. Developing one’s identity during puberty can be a truly excruciating experience at times. Perhaps it was the sudden onset of acne, or the fact that your folks would not allow you to get your ears pierced like ALL of your friends.

Being “different” is just not cool unless all of your friends are being different in the same way as you. In Japanese culture, many of the activities people take part in during the course of a day are designed to train people to intuitively think, feel, and act, with a “group consciousness”. Feeling like you belong to the group gives one a warm sense of what I playfully call “we-dentity”. Having you own separate way of doing things may give you a sense of independence, but it leads to a somewhat more lonely sense of being, that in the West is called “I-dentity”. Let me give you a sense of how this process of “we-dentity” is fostered in an Aikido dojo.

Everyone is meant to show up on time for class. The slippers each person wears are neatly lined up at the entrance to the dojo, just like the fresh fish that are lined up one next to the other in the local fish store. If necessary, when you enter the dojo you tidy up any of the slippers that are askew. When the slippers are all in place it means the class is ready for instruction. One of the senior students will be sure to check that everything is just right, prior to the sensei arriving.

When the sensei enters, everyone stops what they are doing and bows to the sensei while offering a greeting. All of the students are meant to bow in unison. Group action leads to group mind and a sense of fellowship.

When the sensei is ready to start the class he bows, and each student is meant to start and stop their reply bow at the same time. If the rhythm of the group is off, the sensei is likely to bow again, thus requiring the students to better attune to each other, and better attune to the sensei.

When warm-up activities begin each student moves in unison, and voice is added to further meld the group together. “One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.” Little by little the group mind starts to coalesce. When the voice is added, the group starts to breathe in accordance with the rhythm of the counting. People that breathe together tend to think and act alike. Group breathing leads to group mind and a sense of safety.

At some point, with everyone standing more complex movements are initiated. Specific placement of the feet and soft circular movements of the arms are joined together with the counting and the breathing necessary to fuel all that is taking place. One, two, three, four, the voice counts as the feet and arms move. Everyone moving together, counting together, and breathing together. Everyone modulating their individual activity to match and meld with everyone else. As the energy of the group coalesces the mind of the group becomes one. “One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.” Movement, stillness, inhale, exhale, movement, stillness, inhale, exhale.

Each student begins to sense that:

“My energy feeds the others, the energy of the others feeds me.”

“When I am whole, powerful, and in harmony with the group, the group is whole, powerful, and in harmony with me.”

The boundary line between “self” and “other” softens and “I” become an integral part of “we.”

“Your training adds to my training.”

“I cannot improve without you.”

“The spirit of your life adds to the spirit of my life.”

At such times, there is no one left in the room to attack, because attacking another would be the same as attacking myself.

Having achieved this frame of mind, we begin to practice the art of self defense. Looking to protect “I” and “We” at the same time.

My advice will be simple. I suggest that you notice the movement and flow of people around you. Be it commuting to work, in your work environment, or when meeting up with friends. Notice the times when people move and breathe together in harmony, and when the flow of the group seems to be more helter-skelter. Experiment with moving and breathing with other people, while noticing when you feel a bond to the group, and when you feel separate. Maintain a soft focus on yourself, while also noticing what you need to do to flow with those around you. Talk less and notice more. Feel how the emotion of the group you are in at any one time ebbs and flows. Write to me and tell me about your experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melting The Thinking Mind

So often in life we ineffectively try to take control of ourselves when we find that we are caught in a trap of worry and excess thinking. Rather than trying to conquer or tame your thinking mind, this Practice offers you the experience of simply letting it melt away, like a piece of ice on a hot summer day.

You will most likely want to read through the instructions two or three times before you actually do this practice. The more confident you feel with the directions the better your results will tend to be.

All of the breathing throughout this Practice is of utmost importance in melting your thinking mind, so please be certain to breathe deeply when you are asked to do so.

This Practice can be excellent to do numerous times in a day, if you feel like you are getting trapped in internal dialogue.

1. Take a moment and think of some of the complaints, worries, negative self images, possible illnesses or incompetencies that you believe to be true or likely, in regard to yourself. Don’t go overboard in doing this or you won’t be able to do the rest of the Practice! Write down in a brief style three of the concerns that you have come up with. (For instance: “I need to be making more money.” “I am afraid that my girlfriend might leave me.” “I am not sure if my colleagues respect me.”)

2. Now, take three deep breaths, and shake your body and your head some, to “shake off” some of the “problem frame” thinking you have just been doing.

3. Now, work through your list of three concerns in the following manner.

Level 1
A. State a concern that is on your list. (Such as “I need to be making more money.”)
B. Take three deep breaths.
C. Make the following statement, “I am perfect as I am.”
D. Take three deep breaths.
E. Make the following statement, “And just now I’m in the process of feeling and understanding my who I really am.”
F. Take three deep breaths.
G Make the following statement, “My path is my path, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to follow my hearts desire.”
H. Take three deep breaths.

And then repeat this same process with the other two concerns on your list.

4. Work down your list of concerns a second time, but this time in the following manner.

Level 2
A. State a concern that is on your list. (Such as “I need to be making more money.”)
B. T Take three deep breaths.
C. Ask the question, “Who is the one stating this concern?”
D. Take three deep breaths.
E. And now, answer you question, “I don’t know.”
F. Take three deep breaths.

And then repeat this process with the remaining two items on your list.

5. Work down your list of concerns once again.

Level 3 (This is a verbatim repeat of Level 1)
A. State a concern that is on your list.
B. Take three deep breaths.
C. Make the following statement, “I am perfect as I am.”
D. Take three deep breaths.
E. Make the following statement, “And just now I’m in the process of feeling and understanding who I really am.”
F. Take three deep breaths.
G. Make the following statement, “My path is my path, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to follow my hearts desire.”
H. Take three deep breaths.

And then repeat this process with the remaining two items on your list.

6. Sit quietly for a minute or two while giving your attention to the inflow and outflow of oxygen, as you breathe fairly deeply.

7. What have you learned? It might be helpful to take some terse notes.

Breath-Talking

In almost all instances, when we are upset, angry, or stressed, our system gets out of synch and out of rhythm. Often at such times our breathing becomes shallow and we speak rather quickly, as if we need to say it all in one gulp. When we react like this, the more we speak the worse we tend to feel.

If instead you stay calm and talk slowly, in rhythm with a nice relaxed breathing cycle, you will find that you can very definitely alter the way you think and feel. I think you will likely be surprised by the results you can achieve with this Practice.

This Practice assumes you have a situation or relationship that you would like to be able to better understand or change. (If you have not yet done the “I am” Practice better to complete that Practice first.)

Read through these instructions once or twice before actually proceeding.

1. As a “Breath talker” you develop a clear breathing rhythm, in through the nose, and out through the mouth. As you develop your breathing rhythm start out with the same count/duration of the breath for inhaling and exhaling.

2. As you breathe imagine that you are preparing to send a blow dart into a nearby target. Imagine that you send the dart JUST as you begin your exhale. The sound and movement of your exhale in particular, is meant to mimic the imagined action, feeling, and direction, of throwing the dart. You will be making a sound something like “Wwhhou”

Find a crisp, relaxed, breathing rhythm, in through the nose and out through the mouth, and send the dart four or five times.

3. Once you are into a nice rhythm, do away with the “Wwhhou” sound and instead, begin to speak in short phrases in a free form manner, as you exhale.

For example:

“My name is Charlie”… (and then you inhale when you are ready)

“I live in Japan for thirty years now”… (and then you inhale when you are ready)

“Today is warm and beautiful outside.”… (and then you inhale when you are ready)

One short phrase for each exhale, and then inhale in an expansive manner. You can talk about whatever you like, and one phrase can be about one topic, while the next phrase can be about another topic. Just say whatever comes to mind.

4. Once you have the feel of this, stop and take a rest.

5. Now make up an “I am” statement.

Here is how to develop an “I am” statement:

Make believe that you have already achieved the results of something you would like to work on during the course of this Practice, and make a statement that describes how your feel, and experience “life” and or yourself having ALREADY achieved the results you desire. For instance, if you are wanting to lose weight you might say, “I am healthy and maintaining an optimal body weight.”

It is very important that you make an “I am” statement that gives you the mental image and emotional feeling of how you look and feel having ALREADY accomplished your goal, rather than using negative terms that describe how you do NOT want to be. An incorrectly formulated “I am” statement would be “I am no longer overweight and I feel good about myself.” In the same way, a successful athlete would NOT say to herself “I am no longer missing field goals during the important moments of a game.” Instead, she would state what she IS doing, having already accomplished her goal, “I am making my field goals during the important moments of a game.” It is important to keep your “I am” statement simple. In general, the simpler the better.

Once you have made your “I am” statement, get back into your breathing rhythm for several cycles and then speak your “I am” statement several times over several breathing cycles. Start speaking at the beginning of your exhale, pause, inhale, and then speak your “I am” statement again at the start of your next exhale. If you like you can go through more than one breathing cycle before repeating your “I am” statement again. Whatever feels most comfortable for you will be best.

Rest.

6. Now get into your breath-talking rhythm for several cycles and then describe your overall experience as you stay in your “I am” frame of mind. Feel free to say whatever you like, as long as you speak slowly during an exhale, pause, and then inhale expansively.

If and whenever you get out of synch with your breath-talking, stop your speaking as you CONTINUE to breathe, and then start back again with the last statement that you were out of synch with. Staying in synch with your breathing is more important than the words you speak.

At times, depending on your intuition, you might actually want to stop the flow of your current conversation and make whatever other statements come to mind.

For instance: “I am feeling relaxed”… Or, “I can hear other people talking”… “I am wondering what will wind up happening”…

That’s all there is to this process. It is definitely simple, and yet it will likely take you a while to get the hang of it. Please know that I find this Practice to be of great value to people and I think you will likely be surprised by what you learn.

 

 

 

 

 

Somatic Self-Hypnosis

This Practice is rather unique, yet still quite simple to perform. In order to make the instructions as clear as possible, the instructions read quite a bit longer than when I teach this Practice in person.

The purpose of this Practice is to help you understand how the way you use your body creates a different experience of the challenges you face.

It will be best to first read through the instructions once or twice so that you will not have to interrupt yourself later on, by needing to read every step in detail.

As always, breathing and taking your time with this Practice are of paramount importance.

Materials that you will need to perform the Practice:
A. Several hardcover books if available. Soft cover books or even newspapers are also fine. When you stack the books one on top of the other the stack should be roughly six to eight inches high. At least two of the books should be about one inch high when sitting flat on a desk.
B. A clock which clearly show the seconds ticking away. Best if you have a clock that you can place in the room as you like.

Again, as always, this Practice is designed to be done numerous times over a period of time. The results you get over time might be somewhat magical, but the Practice itself is not at all magical. The “magic” shows up in the doing! Performing the Practice numerous times will give you great value.

1. Determine and state a relationship or behavior that you would like to better understand as a result of doing this Seishindo Self-hypnosis Practice.
In Seishindo we strongly suggest exploring what you would like to better understand, rather than striving to change a behavior or relationship. All too often people attempt to change something in their life, without fully understanding the circumstances involved. Our belief is: If you truly understand a situation or relationship, both cognitively and emotionally, you will almost certainly find that a “problem” no longer exists.
Please make a clear statement of intention now. For instance, “I would like to better understand my relationship with eating and food.”

2. Create an “I am” statement.
Here is how to develop an “I am” statement:
Make believe that you have ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED your intention as just stated above. Make a statement that describes how your feel, and experience “life” and or yourself having ALREADY achieved the results you desire. For instance, if you are wanting to have “a better understanding of my relationship to food” you might say, “I am enjoying my healthy relationship with food and eating, and feeling good.”

It is very important that you make an “I am” statement that gives you the mental image and emotional feeling of how you look and feel having ALREADY accomplished your goal, rather than using negative terms that describe how you do NOT want to be. An incorrectly formulated “I am” statement would be “I am no longer overweight and I feel good about myself.” In the same way, a successful athlete would NOT say to herself “I am no longer missing field goals during the important moments of a game.” Instead, state what you ARE doing, having already accomplished your goal. The athlete might say, “I am feeling confident as I continue to make my field goals.” It is important to keep your “I am” statement simple. In general, the simpler the better.

In particular, people often struggle with how to make a statement in regard to “smoking” or “stress”.
We do NOT want to say something like “I am better understanding my relationship to smoking/stress.” because such a statement would have us continuing to think about “Smoking/Stress” Much better to say something like (Depending on your circumstances of course.) “I am in a healthy relationship with my whole self, and feeling fit and fine.” Or, “I am having healthy reactions to life’s many ups and downs.”

It is quite likely that your “I am” statement will change during the course of this Practice, or you might find that your “I am” statement changes the next time you entertain the same issue. This is fine. As long as you continue to state your “I am” statement in positive terms, welcome a change in your statement, if and when a change does occur.)

Take the time now to write down your initial intent, and the “I am” statement that you have created.

3. With your shoes off, stand with one foot on the floor and your other foot resting on top of your stack of books that is roughly between six to eight inches in height. Shift about 60% of your weight to the foot that is on top of the books.

Stand like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements. If you are in a suitable space, it is best to make your “I am” statements out loud.

4. Switch to having your other foot on top of the books.

Once again, make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

5. Now switch the set up of the books. Work with the two books that are only about one inch thick. Place one book under the ball of your right foot and the other book under the heal of your left foot.

Stand like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

6. Switch feet. Place one book under the ball of your left foot the other one under the heel of your right foot.

Stand like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

7. Now switch the set up of the books again. Working with the two books that are only about one inch thick, place each book under the ball of each foot.

Stand like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

8. Now switch the set up of the books again. Working with the two books that are only about one inch thick, place each book under the heel of each foot.

Stand like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

9. Continuing to stand with the books under both heels, tighten up your face muscles, raise and tighten your shoulders, and tighten ALL of your other muscles as well.

Stand like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

10. Stand in a “regular” manner with both feet on the floor. Rock slowly and rhythmically from front to back.

Stand and rock like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

11. Stand in a “regular” manner with both feet on the floor. Rock slowly and rhythmically from left to right.

Stand and rock like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

12. Stand in a “regular” manner with both feet on the floor. Nothing special to do this time.

Stand like this and make your “I am” statement out loud, and then breathe deeply three times. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

After taking your three deep breaths, just stare out into the distance, as then begin to repeat your “I am” statement to yourself in a slow repetitive fashion. Take about one minute for this. Be certain to speak to yourself slowly, and to take at least one deep breath in between your statements.

The “active” part of the Practice is now complete.

Note to yourself your “I am” statement now. Is it the same as before? As I said up top change is fine if it comes, but either way is OK.

Note how you feel now, and how you feel in regard to your original intention and your “I am” statement(s). You might find it useful to take some notes.

Tuning In

This Seishindo Self-hypnosis Practice is great for helping you to better understand and adapt to the various challenges you face in life. As you little by little come to a place of greater understanding, compassion, and self love, you will find your experience of life and your relationships, being transformed. Eventually you will come to understand that ever challenge life offers you, is actually an opportunity to grow and evolve.

We suggest that you strive for understanding, self love, and compassion, and not “change.”

It is suggested that you read through these instructions several times prior to beginning. This will give you the possibility of doing the whole Practice without needing to refer to the notes. Of course do refer to the notes if you need to, but you will likely get the most pleasing results when you can leave the notes behind.

It is important to know that these notes are meant as a general guideline, and there is no need to worry about following the steps exactly as they are written.

What is important, is that during the course of this Practice, you maintain a soft focus with your eyes, SLOW mild mannered internal dialogue/talking, and a deep and relaxed breathing pattern.

If possible, it is best to do this Practice in a location and time that allows for you to make your statements out loud. BUT, much better to do this Practice often only speaking to yourself internally, rather than waiting for the perfect circumstances!

This Practice assumes that you have an issue, relationship, or circumstance in your life that you would like to better understand.

Seat yourself so that you are comfortable.
[I find this Practice a lot more powerful when I look at myself in a mirror during the entire Practice, but this is not at all necessary. You can just sit looking at the wall, or out the window.]

If in any way you feel like you are rushing even a tiny bit, you are to slow down, and begin again. Maintaining a slow relaxed pace is an important part of the overall process.

1) State your intention in regard to understanding an issue / relationship / circumstance more fully.
For instance: “I would like to have a better understanding of my relationship to food.”
It is important to stick to wanting to “better understand” something, rather than attempting to change or fix something that you perhaps do not fully understand.

2) Create an “I am” statement.
Here is how to develop an “I am” statement:
Make believe that you have ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED your intention as just stated above. Make a statement that describes how your feel, and experience “life” and or yourself having ALREADY achieved the results you desire. For instance, if you are wanting to have “a better understanding of my relationship to food” you might say, “I am enjoying my healthy relationship with food and eating, and feeling good.”

It is very important that you make an “I am” statement that gives you the mental image and emotional feeling of how you look and feel having ALREADY accomplished your goal, rather than using negative terms that describe how you do NOT want to be. An incorrectly formulated “I am” statement would be “I am no longer overweight and I feel good about myself.” In the same way, a successful athlete would NOT say to herself “I am no longer missing field goals during the important moments of a game.” Instead, state what you ARE doing, having already accomplished your goal. The athlete might say, “I am feeling confident as I continue to make my field goals.” It is important to keep your “I am” statement simple. In general, the simpler the better.

In particular, people often struggle with how to make a statement in regard to “smoking” or “stress”.
We do NOT want to say something like “I am better understanding my relationship to smoking/stress.” because such a statement would have us continuing to think about “Smoking/Stress” Much better to say something like (Depending on your circumstances of course.) “I am in a healthy relationship with my whole self, and feeling fit and fine.” Or, “I am having healthy reactions to life’s many ups and downs.”

It is quite likely that your “I am” statement will change during the course of this Practice, or you might find that your “I am” statement changes the next time you entertain the same issue. This is fine. As long as you continue to state your “I am” statement in positive terms, welcome a change in your statement, if and when a change does occur.)

3) Once you are clear about what your “I am” statement is for now, SLOWLY repeat it three times while taking a DEEP breath after each statement. It is important that you breathe deeply and expansively. Take your time while doing this.

4) Sit quietly for one full minute or so….
Allow your eyes to lightly rest on whatever is in front of you….
And breathe in and out through your nose….
A bit deeper than usual….
And notice any rocking movements you might have, if any…..

5) Now, state three things that you see….
Now, breathe deeply three times….
Taking your time……

6) Now, make your “I am” statement….
And then, take three deep breaths….

7) Now, name three sounds that you hear….
Now, feeling like you have a luxurious amount of time for this Practice….
Breathe deeply three times….
Taking all the time that you need….

8) Now, make your “I am” statement….
And now, take three deep breaths….

9) Now, state three sensations that you feel inside or on the surface of your body. Please be certain to name three physical sensations. Please do not use terms like “happy” “tired” “sad”.
For instance, you might say “I can feel my heart beating, my posture is rounded forward, and my left eye is a bit more open than my right eye.”

Don’t do anything to change yourself, just note how you are now….
Now, breathe deeply three times….
Taking your time to relax into the moment….

10) Now, make your “I am” statement….
And now, take three deep breaths….

11) Now, state two things that you see….
And then, breathe deeply three times….

12) Now, make your “I am” statement….
And now, take three deep breaths….

13) Now, as you sit comfortably, name two sounds that you hear….
And now, breathe deeply three times….

14) Now, make your “I am” statement….
And now, take three deep breaths….

15) Now, name two physical sensations that you feel, inside, or on the surface of, your body….
Now, breathe deeply three times.

16) Now, make your “I am” statement….
And now, take three deep breaths…..

17) Now, state one thing that you see….
And now, take three deep breaths….

18) Name one sound that you hear….
And now, take three deep breaths….

19) Now, name one physical sensation that you feel….
And now, take three deep breaths….

20) Now, make your “I am” statement….
And now, take three deep breaths….

21) For one full minute or so, allow your mind to wander in any direction it likes….
While at the same time…. keeping a rhythmic feel to your breathing….

22) Now, speak any statements that come to your mind at this time….
You can state how you are feeling physically and emotionally….
You can state any thoughts that come to your mind….
You can state what you hear, see, and feel…..

23) What have you learned?
How do you feel in regard to your initial intention?
How does your “I am” statement feel to you?
What is your emotional state like now?

There are not any right or wrong answers or statements here.
You are only meant to notice your experience.
Your experience will indeed change over time.

Please perform this practice numerous other times so that you can notice how it is your RELATIONSHIP to your initial intention, changes over time.

Only one, Only moving, Only calm

You can initially perform this practice as you follow the instructions step by step on your computer screen. In a short while you will find that you no longer need to read the instructions and you can just take a pleasant wandering journey on your own. Then you might find that your experience deepens and your good feeling grows.

The main idea for this Practice is to notice how movement and breath are important components in all of life. Notice how movement and breath connect all living beings together, as active players in the symphony of life.

If it is convenient for you I would suggest using some slow soothing music when doing this Practice. Keep the music quite low, but definitely audible. Let the music feed your movement and breath.

Although you can do this Practice either sitting or standing, I will describe doing it from a seated position.

“From a seated position, take a minute or two and quiet yourself down……. As you begin to quiet down, notice if you can, your heartbeat….the rhythm of your breathing……. and how your body moves with each breath…….”

“Take a minute and also notice any sounds that are in your local environment……..and note what it is you see around you………”

“Breathe deeply, as you balance the structure of your body, and release the muscles of your face, neck, chest, and stomach…… And then breathe deeply again…………”

“Move around some as you perhaps begin to feel the pulse of life within you…….”

“Breathe deeply, and allow the weight of your body to rest in your lower abdomen…………. Have a sense of your lower abdomen being quite heavy and full, and at the same time feel that all of the rest of your trunk is light, and expanding upwards and outwards…….”

“Sometimes it is helpful to have an image that assists you in feeling both heavy and light at the same time…….. An image that might prove helpful is………..Consider your pelvis to be like a large pot, and your lower abdomen is the water that fills your pot………… Now, let the water in your pot begin to warm up, so that steam forms and rises up from your pot……like the soothing steam rising from a bath tub or sauna………”

As this warming, relaxing steam rises up and washes over you…….. let it fill your upper body and give you the sense that the rising steam leads your whole upper body to ever so much, rise up and expand…………”

“Breathe deeply and feel both the weight of your full pot, and the expansion and lightness of the steam rising up and enveloping and expanding your upper body…… Experience the rising and expanding steam to be an outpouring of ki……..”

“Breathe deeply and notice the movement of the steam…… the movement of your ki……the movement of your body…….and feel an inflow of ki, like a soothing breeze, as the atmospheric pressure around you moves into your space, to balance the lessened air pressure of the rising steam……”

“Breathe deeply and notice that your spirit is quite immovable right now……. Very firm, very calm, very present….As if there is a strong but gentle force expanding inside of you……. while at the same time there is a strong but gentle force contracting inside of you….. Your spirit contracts and expands at the same time…… and your spirit is quite able to move if movement is indeed necessary…….”

“Breathing deeply and sensing a unity with all of life….. doing only what your spirit moves you to do…… and nothing more or less……..Your “doing less” leads you to feel and expand into your power……… while having a greater sense of connection to life…… Great calmness leading to great action…… like a hurricane radiating out from its calm center…….. Great action leads to great calmness, as when a strongly thrown top rights itself and calmly spins round its center……….”

“The expansion and contraction of your breathing…….. The expansion and contraction of your heartbeat….. The expansion and contraction of air currents throughout the world as some areas heat up and other areas cool off….. The movement of the clouds in a light blue sky….. The movement of the leaves on a large tree as a fresh spring breeze passes by………. The rapid flowing of a mountain stream fed by the melting snow moving down the mountain…. The call of a bird……..the crying of a young baby…….. the beating of your heart……….and the inhale and exhale of your breath…… all taking place right now…. feeling this moment……..saying yes to this moment…… feeling one with this moment…….. feeling your movement…….. and sensing how your movement is a movement that is common to all of life……. the entire universe is moving….. the whole world is breathing….. and it is the need for diversity…… the need for differrence…….. both expansion AND contraction………. black AND white……inhaling………AND exhaling……… that balances the world… and leads to an outpouring of spirit……. a sense of Oneness, with all of life……….

Open Perspective

1. Make a statement of intention stated in “positive” terms as to what you would like to accomplish today.

2. Turn your statement of intention into an “I am” statement.

Here is how to develop an “I am” statement:
Make believe that you have already achieved the results of something you would like to work on during the course of this Practice, and make a statement that describes how your feel, and experience “life” and or yourself having ALREADY achieved the results you desire. For instance, if you are wanting to lose weight you might say, “I am healthy, maintaining an optimal body weight, and feeling good about myself.”

It is very important that you make an “I am” statement that gives you the mental image and emotional feeling of how you look and feel having ALREADY accomplished your goal, rather than using negative terms that describe how you do NOT want to be. An incorrectly formulated “I am” statement would be “I am no longer overweight and I feel good about myself.” In the same way, a successful athlete would NOT say to herself “I am no longer missing field goals during the important moments of a game.” Instead, state what you ARE doing, having already accomplished your goal, “I am making my field goals during the important moments of a game.” It is important to keep your “I am” statement simple. In general, the simpler the better.

What is important here is a soft focus with your eyes, and SLOW, mild mannered talking.

If in any way you feel like you are rushing even a tiny bit, you are to slow down, and begin again.

Maintaining a slow relaxed pace is crucial.

3. When ready, take three DEEP breaths and then repeat your “I am” statement again.

4. Now, take ONE DEEP breath and make an “open perspective” statement which is spontaneous and ad libbed in the moment.

What is meant by an “open perspective statement”?

Any statement that has seemingly nothing to do with your intention in doing this Practice, or your “I am” statement. ANY statement at all. For instance you could say something like “It snowed in late April last year.” Or “My daughter will be five years old in a week.”

5. Now again take one DEEP breath…..and make your “I am” statement again……

6. Take another DEEP breath…….and make your next “open perspective” statement……

7. Take another DEEP breath……….. and make your “I am” statement.

8. Take another DEEP breath…….and make your next “open perspective” statement……

And then again breathe deeply ………as you draw to a close.

Debrief
How does your experience in any way match or mismatch your “usual” way of thinking in regard to your statement of intent? How does if feel to make your “I am” statement numerous times? Have you learned something doing this Practice?

Heartbeat Mantra For General Calming

The Heartbeat Mantra Practice is an excellent Practice for developing a state of calmness. It is especially good to do if you find yourself becoming excessive in your thinking, or if you are feeling stressed.

[You will need to understand how to perform the Heartbeat Breathing Practice in order to take part in this process. If you do not feel that you fully understand how to do Heartbeat Breathing, please practice Heartbeat Breathing until you can do so without requiring written instructions.]

If you are in your own space it is nice to do this practice with some low and slow background music playing. If you choose music with lyrics, be certain that the lyrics do not distract you.

As you go through this practice you might notice that your body takes on a subtle rocking motion. Although this rocking motion is not important in and of itself, please allow such rocking to occur if indeed it does start to happen.

From a seated position, take a minute or to and quiet your thinking mind. Usually, a good way to begin the process of quieting down, is to first slowly take several deep breaths.

When you are ready, engage in Heartbeat Breathing for at least two minutes.

Developing your heartbeat mantra
Now stop your heartbeat breathing so that you can read through the following instructions:

For general calming
Read through these instructions first before actually performing what is asked.

Start by taking the page of MANTRAS shown below and placing the page in front of you.
(You can of course make your own page of mantras. Adding colors and simple pictures/drawings, can also be excellent.)

Sit calmly and begin to feel into your heartbeat breath.
Take your time and get into the rhythm of your heartbeat breath.
Once you feel like you have a good feel for the rhythm of your heartbeat breath, just go with the feeling, and stop counting the duration of the inhale and exhale.
Just go with your feeling for a couple of rounds of breathing.

Now, look at the first phrase on the page of mantras, for your entire inhale and exhale.
Repeat the phrase to yourself each time your heart beats, as you look at the phrase and inhale and exhale. Do this for at least one complete cycle of inhaling and exhaling.

So, for instance: You look at “No meaning” for an entire inhale AND exhale, repeating the phrase “No meaning” each time you feel your heart beat.

When you are ready, go on to the next word or phrase.
If you feel like it, instead of moving from one word to the next in an ordered fashion, you can randomly go to any word or phrase on the page that draws your attention.
Look at this new word or phrase for at least one complete inhale and exhale, and repeat the phrase at the same pace as your heartbeat.

Go through the whole page at least once.

This is the whole process.

Note for yourself how you feel right now.
What is your emotional tone right now? How do you experience your breathing? How do you experience yourself? How do you experience the world around you?
Almost certainly, you will feel differently from when you started.
Most people will report feeling a good deal more relaxed, because they have been giving their attention to their breath and heartbeat, while keeping their logical mind occupied with the various phrases being repeated.
If for some reason doing this Practice has not helped you to relax, then you will know that this is an excellent Practice to work with over time.

If necessary read the instructions again, prior to actually beginning.

Heartbeat Breath—Calming Breath

If you are in your own space it is nice to do this practice with some low and slow background music playing. If you choose music with lyrics, be certain that the lyrics do not distract you.

As you go through this practice you might notice that your body takes on a subtle rocking motion. Although this rocking motion is not important in and of itself, please allow such rocking to occur if indeed it does start to happen.

From a seated position, take a minute or to and quiet your thinking mind. Usually, a good way to begin the process of quieting down, is to first take a couple of deep breaths.

As you begin to quiet down, notice if you can, your heartbeat. You might simply be able to feel your heartbeat pulsing in you, or you might need to feel your pulse by either placing your hand on your heart; placing your fingers on your carotid artery; or placing your fingers along either wrist. (Use any fingers other than your thumbs.)

If you can’t feel your heartbeat on its own and need to use one of your hands to help you, see after a minute or two if you can feel your heartbeat without needing to use your hand. This would be best in the long run. If you find feeling your pulse difficult, then you will be well served by practicing over time, until you can sit quietly and feel your heartbeat pulsing through you. Sensing one’s heartbeat is a primary technique used in many different health management systems for inducing greater body awareness, relaxation, and health.

Feel your heartbeat while just sitting quietly, either using your hands or not. You might notice some body movement. This is fine. Begin to notice your breath as well. Breathing in and breathing out through your nose. Feel your breath AND your heartbeat, and match the rhythm of the two. For example: Four heartbeats for the duration of the inhale and four heartbeats for the duration of the exhale. Keep your inhale and your exhale equal in length. This is rather important. As a second example: You might count your inhale for four heartbeats and then add a fifth beat as a pause or segue, prior to exhaling. Then count four heartbeats for the exhale, with an extra fifth beat as a pause or segue prior to inhaling.

You might find the duration or count of your breath changes from time to time. This is fine, and quite natural. For instance you might go from a four heartbeat count, to a three heartbeat count. Or you might go from a three heartbeat count to a five heartbeat count. Just be certain to adjust your breathing so that the inhalations and exhalations are once again of the same duration.

A minimum practice time would normally be five minutes, and you can do this practice in many different settings. On a train, bus, or plane. While a passenger in a car. Waiting in a reception room. Just prior to a test. You can take this practice with you wherever you go. If you are in a situation waiting for something to occur, you might likely find that even just one minute of this practice helps you to calm down.

Remember, when you calm your breathing you calm your body. When you calm your body, you calm your thinking and your internal dialogue. When you calm your body and your thinking, you calm your mind.

When measuring the duration of your heartbeat breath, it is important that you actually count your heartbeats and not just arbitrarily count at a predetermined pace. You are looking to meld the activity of your heart with the activity of the breath. After a while as you develop more experience with this practice you can just feel your heartbeats and no longer need to count.

To recap: Feel your heartbeat, and then synchronize your breath with your heartbeat. An inhale of say three heartbeats, a one heartbeat segue, and then a three heartbeat exhale with a one heartbeat segue. Nothing more to do than stay with this process and notice what you feel happening within your system. If you stay with this process for a few minutes you are likely to feel quite relaxed and at ease.

As simple as this Practice is, you might find it somewhat challenging in the beginning. If so, this will be a sign that it is important for you to take the time to delve more deeply into your personal rhythms.

Whole Body Breathing

(This Practice has been influenced by the work of Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen, Linda Hartley, and the study of Aikido and Yoga.)

By bringing your conscious awareness to your entire body, you can increase your health and vitality.

The explanation of this Practice is rather lengthy, but once you get the hang of it you’ll soon understand the process is quite simple and easy to perform.

Keep in mind that once you get comfortable with this Practice, you do not have to follow all of the instructions in a linear fashion.

The best thing to do once you have the basic idea, is simply go with the flow of what you remember and feel, and then reread the instructions from time to time.

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1. Start by lying down

(Laying down for this Practice is not a “must”, but we find that initially it tends to help people get the best feel for what’s going on.)

If you do lay down as suggested, better to lay on the floor, rather than a bed or couch, IF you have a floor you can be comfortable on. The idea is to get comfortable, but not to the point of going to sleep. If you do wind up drifting off to sleep, no worries.

Just do the Practice again in the near future, with the intent of staying awake.

2. Take a minute to slow down and quiet your thinking mind.

For at least three full cycles breath, breathing in and out through your nose, in a slow, full manner….

Breathe so that you can hear the air passing through your nose on both the inhale and exhale….

As you inhale, feel the air coming in through your nose, and filling up your stomach area. As you exhale, feel the breath exiting through your nostrils.

Please like this now over the course of the next sixty seconds or so….

Thoughts will likely continue to come, but simply let them go by, as if your thoughts are floating by you down a river.

3. Remaining calm…. notice your heartbeat….

You might simply be able to feel your heartbeat pulsing in you, or you might need to feel your pulse by either placing your hand on your heart; placing your fingers on your carotid artery (if you know where it is); or placing your fingers along either wrist. (Use any fingers other than your thumbs.)

Take one full minute to feel your heartbeat while lying quietly and breathing.

4. Now, let go of all that you have been doing and begin to become aware of your abdomen….

Use your hand to feel the area of your belly button. Pat yourself a bit, rub yourself a bit, lightly scratch your belly some, and then put your hand back down by your side, while continuing to be aware of and feel your abdomen….

5. Now, you’re to imagine that all of your breath enters and exits your body through your navel, much like it did when you were inside your mother’s stomach….

As you breathe in and out through your nose, imagine you’re a baby in your mother’s womb and your breath is entering and exiting through your navel….

As you breath in through your navel your stomach area expands…. As you exhale out through your navel, your stomach area gets smaller….

Imagine and feel as you can, how the breath radiates from your navel, and travels throughout your entire body….

Let your belly be free so that it can enjoy increasing and decreasing in size, giving and receiving….

6. Now, breathe in through your navel, down through your left leg, and out your left foot.

Then exhale drawing your breath up from the sole of your left foot and moving it out through your navel….

Once again, breathe in through your navel, down through your left leg, and out your left foot.

Then exhale drawing your breath up from the sole of your left foot and moving it out through your navel….

7. Now breathe in through your navel and then down through your right leg, and out your right foot.

Then exhale drawing your breath up from the sole of your right foot and moving it out through your navel…..

Once again, breathe in through your navel and then down through your right leg, and out your right foot.

Then exhale drawing your breath up from the sole of your right foot and moving it out through your navel…..

8. Now, inhale through your navel, up through your stomach and chest, and into your left shoulder.

Then slowly exhale from your left shoulder back out through your navel.

9. This time inhale through your-stomach-chest-left shoulder, and all the way down your left arm and out the fingers of your left hand.

Then slowly exhale drawing your breath from the fingers of your left hand, up your left arm, and then down and out through your navel….

Once again, inhale through your-stomach-chest-left shoulder, and all the way down your left arm and out the fingers of your left hand.

Then slowly exhale drawing your breath from the fingers of your left hand, up your left arm, and then down and out through your navel….

Feel the cleansing process of your breathing….    Oxygen coming in through your navel on your inhale….    Carbon dioxide exiting out through your navel on your exhale….    Breathing and relaxing….

Oxygen in through the navel, carbon dioxide out through the navel….

10. Now, inhale through your stomach-chest-right shoulder, and all the way down your right arm and out the fingers of your right hand….

Then slowly exhale from the fingers of your right hand, up, the arm, and down and out through your navel….

Once again, inhale through your stomach-chest-right shoulder, and all the way down your right arm and out the fingers of your right hand….

Then slowly exhale from the fingers of your right hand, up, the arm, and down and out through your navel….

Oxygen in….. Carbon dioxide out…. Cleansing your body, soothing your entire self….

Breathe in a deep relaxing manner…. Breathing in the worries of the world, and breathing out serenity and compassion…. Breathing in the worries of the world, and breathing out serenity and compassion….

Breathing in and out through your navel….. Breathing and relaxing…..

11. Now, breathe up through your stomach, chest, and neck, and out  the top of your head….

Then exhale from the top of your head, down your torso, and out through your navel….

Again, up through your stomach, chest, and neck, and out the top of your head….

Then exhale from the top of your head, down your torso, and out through your navel….

12. This time breathe as you like, while feeling your facial muscles, your eyes, your forehead, and your scalp….

Then exhale from your scalp, face, and head, out through your navel….

Imagine that you’re rinsing out an open ended container, running the water from the bottom to the top, and from the top to the bottom.

Until such time that everything is nice and clean….

Cleaning and purifying your container….

13. As you inhale and exhale freely, feel how the temperature of your body varies some from place to place on and in your body….

Notice how your breath moves your body…. And how various parts of your body have tiny movements that seem to take place “on their own” without any conscious direction on your part….

Also notice your surroundings as you breathe…. The lighting…. different objects in the room…. the temperature in the room…. the movement of air…. the sounds in the local environment…..

Now, if you haven’t done so already, close your eyes…. and simply feel yourself all over, with your breath emanating from your navel….

In and out…. In and out….

Breathe like this for at least one minute.

14. Now, let go of everything you’ve been doing, and feel your heartbeat again.

Maintain a general sense of breathing in and out through your navel, as you also feel your heartbeat.

Breathe like this for at least two minutes.

Waiting quietly for a friend

“Waiting quietly for a friend” is one of the core activities of Seishindo. In this Practice we acknowledge the presence of “an intelligence greater than myself” and we invite this presence into our life, into our home, into our heart.

The concept of acknowledging a presence greater than one’s self is of course found in various religions, as well as in poetry from around the world, and it plays a central role in the overall process of Alcoholics Anonymous. As time, and my own practice continues, more and more I am coming to the understanding that a connection to an intelligence greater than one’s self is of prime importance for one’s emotional and spiritual well being.

(If you have done the Heartbeat Breathing Practice before you will find the beginning of this Practice exactly the same.)

As you go through this Practice you might notice that your body takes on a subtle rocking motion. Although this rocking motion is not important in and of itself, please allow such rocking to occur if indeed it does start to happen.

Read through these instructions first before actually performing what is asked. In fact you might want to actually read through the instructions several times before actually doing this Practice.

1. From a seated position, take a minute or to and quiet your thinking mind. Usually, a good way to begin the process of quieting down is to first take a couple of deep breaths. Please make sure that you really do this, rather than just reading the words………Please take a couple of deep breaths.

2. As you begin to settle in, notice if you can, your heartbeat. You might simply be able to feel your heartbeat pulsing in you, or you might need to feel your pulse by either placing your hand on your heart; placing your fingers on your carotid artery; or placing your fingers along either wrist. (Use any fingers other than your thumbs.)

If you can’t feel your heartbeat on its own and need to use one of your hands to help you, see after a minute or two if you can feel your heartbeat without needing to use your hand. This would be best in the long run. If you find feeling your pulse difficult, then you will be well served by practicing over time, until you can sit quietly and feel your heartbeat pulsing through you. Sensing one’s heartbeat is a primary technique used in many different health management systems for inducing greater body awareness and relaxation.

Feel your heartbeat while just sitting quietly, either using your hands or not: You might notice some body movement. This is fine.

3. Begin to notice your breath as well. Breathing in and breathing out through your nose. Feel your breath AND your heartbeat.

4. Sit with your breathing and your heartbeat and have the sense that you are waiting for the sun to rise. You can indeed be fairly certain that the sun will rise, but the time it takes is timeless and cyclical.

5. Now, imagine that you are waiting for a healthy baby to be born. It might be “your” baby or it might be the baby of a friend. The mother is fine and the baby is expected to be totally healthy, and you are sitting there, simply breathing and waiting, and supporting the overall process with your prayers and good will.

6. Now imagine that you are sitting waiting for “God” to arrive. Please allow yourself the opportunity in this instance to interpret the term God in whatever way is most pleasing for you. The mystic poet Rumi used to talk about “waiting for the Beloved.” Other people might feel like they are waiting for “Spirit” to arrive. Some people will conceive of God as being female in nature. Please conceive of God in whatever way works best for you.
You are sitting there knowing full well that God not only will arrive, but in some very important way, God is already sitting there with you.

7. Go back to noticing your breath and your heartbeat. Sit for one minute with this feeling.

8. Now sense or imagine that God is entering your space, and your heart. Please offer some simple greetings and words of thanks, as you continue to also be aware of your breath and your heartbeat. If you are in a suitable space, please speak your words out loud.
Something perhaps like this:

“Thank you.”
Breathing a deep yet relaxed inhale and exhale…….
“So wonderful to have you here.”
Breathing a deep yet relaxed inhale and exhale…….
“Enter please.”
Breathing……
“Thank you.”
Breathing…..
“Please continue to help me.”
Breathing…….
“Please continue to heal me.”
Breathing…….
“Please continue to fill me with your love.”
Breathing……
“Thank you for my loved ones.”
Breathing……
“Help me to remain calm and confident.”
Breathing……

Whatever you would like to say next………..
Breathing……..

Take your time and get into a pleasing rhythm.
Just go with your feeling.

You can repeat any one of the phrases as often as you like.

You can also just sit there with your breath and your heartbeat with no need to speak.

When you are done, sit calmly.
A minimum practice time would normally be five minutes.

Remember, when you calm your breathing you calm your body. When you calm your body, you calm your thinking mind and your internal dialogue. When you calm your body and your thinking mind, you calm your limbic-somatic mind. With your limbic-somatic mind calm, you feel your connection to Spirit, to God. When you feel your connection to God you feel protected, thankful, and calm.

The ebb and flow of life

This Practice is designed to give you a sense of being connected to the natural world, and knowing you are not alone.

Set aside a few minutes and slowly, very slowly, read the words below. As you read, be certain to take some deep breaths where you would normally pause for an instant when reading in a more usual manner.

One of the most important things you can learn in life, is to create a rhythm with your presence, movements, and breathing, that matches the rhythm of nature. This is a lesson that is taught in most if not all martial arts.

Imagine yourself sitting by an ocean. Perhaps on the beach, or perhaps sitting on a dock or jetty.

The ocean is calm today, and you might begin to feel how the rhythms and sounds of the ocean soothe your soul.

As you sit where you are now, imagine the ebb and flow of the ocean, and the sounds of the tide flowing back and forth, pausing and swirling. As the tide comes in, you can consider that the ocean is exhaling. As the tide goes back out, the ocean is inhaling.

You can sense the movement and sounds of the ocean….
And I want you to notice your movements and breathing…..
As you feel yourself going IN… and OUT… of rhythm with this flow.

Feel the life force of the ocean… …
Its gentle power… …
And breathe with the ocean… …

Feel the life force of the ocean, and without doing anything, allow yourself to move with the ocean… …

Breathe, move, and feel your heartbeat… …
Feeling the pulsing of your spirit, and the pulsing of the ocean… …
Inviting your heartbeat to synchronize with the heartbeat of the ocean.

Now you are becoming one with the water, and the fluid inside your body begins to become a tiny powerful ocean that ebbs and flows throughout your system… …

In and out.
Exhale and inhale.
Ebb and flow… …

Now, like the ocean, you can begin to feel the power of flowing without resisting… Flowing without fighting against…

The water surrounds and moves past all obstacles. There is no forcing, and no need for strength.

Only flow… . The power is IN the flow, and each drop of water is pliant and soft…
No one drop of water is powerful on its own…

Sit there now with your ocean, and with yourself…
Feel your power melding with the power of the ocean.
Not separate, but together.
And you can clearly experience that all this power is really One.

Such is your journey.
And I hope that in some small way, when reading these words now, you can feel the power and the presence that resides within yourself.
The one tiny drop of water that you are.
Not separate, but immersed in the flow of the ocean of life.

You might find it enjoyable to reread these words now, and certainly I hope you will return to these words, and the feelings that you generated, in the future.

Self-regulating Steady States

This Practice can give you a first hand experience of how you can use your own personal speed governor to regulate the overall speed of your system. Coming in touch with “too much and too little” will help you to find the Goldilocks place of “juusst right.”

In Seishindo workshops we usually work with people sitting on large rubber physiotherapy balls. Use a ball for this Practice if you have one. If not simply sit on a regular chair. Sit approximately half as far back on the chair as you usually would when resting against the back of the chair.

Read through the instructions once or twice or more before actually doing the Practice. You will usually get the best results once you are able to do the Practice without needing to read the instructions as you perform.

1. Bounce you torso up and down in small but energetic bounces. There is no need to have your butt leave the chair or ball, but small energetic bounces are what you want.

As you bounce quickly, slowly and deeply breathe in and out. Continue bouncing and breathe in and out slowly and deeply for a second round.

2. On your third round of bouncing and breathing, inhale and then hold you breath as you continue to bounce. Don’t overdo it, but hold your breath as you bounce until you feel like you really need to let it go quickly, and then do so.

3. Perform step 1. again, and this time on the third round of breathing, fully exhale and hold your breath when you reach the end of your exhale. Continue bouncing, and just like before, don’t overdo it, but hold your breath as you bounce until you feel like you really need to all of a sudden breathe in, and then do so.

4. Sit up straight, and sit calmly for one full minute, breathe as you like, while noticing the feeling of your body, and your surroundings.

5. Now slump over a good amount and sit in a slumped, passive posture. As you sit there slumped over count from one to fifteen as you blink your eyes to each count. Count slowly in the following fashion, “One thousand one (blink), One thousand two (blink), One thousand three (blink).” Two counts for an inhale, and two counts for an exhale.

6. When you reach “16” keep your eyes shut inhale fully and hold your breath as before, until you feel a strong need to exhale. As you exhale open your eyes.

7. Stay slumped and run through the same pattern from 1-16, but this time when you reach 16, keep your eyes shut, exhale fully and hold your breath as before, until you feel a strong desire to inhale. As you inhale open your eyes.

8. Sit up straight, and sit calmly for one full minute, breathe as you like, while noticing the feeling of your body, and your surroundings.

9. Sitting up straight, bob your head two times towards your left shoulder as if you were very lightly trying to touch your left ear to your left shoulder (as you count internally “1, 2”) and then bob your head two times towards your right shoulder as if you were very lightly trying to touch your right ear to your right shoulder, (as you count internally “3, 4”). As you head bobs to the left and you count “1, 2” you inhale. As your head bobs to the right and you count “3, 4” you exhale. Be certain to continue to sit straight as you do this.

Continue with “5, 6” to the left again, then “7, 8” to the right, breathing all the while, and continuing all the way until you go back and forth and reach “15, 16”.

10. Sit up straight, and sit calmly for one full minute, breathe as you like, while noticing the feeling of your body, and your surroundings.

11. Now bob your head and touch your chin twice to your chest, as you count “1, 2” and inhale. Then bob your head back being careful to stay within your range of comfort, as if you were lightly trying to touch the top back of your head to your spine, and you count “3, 4” and exhale. Bobbing back towards your chest with the count of “5, 6” and you inhale. Bobbing back towards you back with an exhale and the count of “7, 8”. Continue all the way through until “15, 16”.

12. Sit up straight, and sit calmly for one full minute, breathe as you like, while noticing the feeling of your body, and your surroundings.

13. Briskly turn your head twice to the left as if you were wanting to look over your left shoulder, as you inhale and count “1, 2”. Then briskly turn your head twice to the right as you exhale and count “3, 4”. Continue back and forth until you reach “15, 16”.

14. Sit up straight, and sit calmly for one full minute, breathe as you like, while noticing the feeling of your body, and your surroundings.

For each person this experience will be different.

If you are feeling in a calm, relaxed “steady state” rejoice in the feeling.
If not that is also fine, because it gives you the opportunity to cycle through any or all of the above protocol again.

Eventually more or less, depending on where you start from, you will reach a steady state for today, and then you can do it all over again tomorrow and reach another steady state.

The experience is in the Practice, not in reaching a state of completion.
Cycle through this Practice over and over again, for a long time to come.

What can you learn from a steam engine?

A simple metaphor sometimes leads to a change in the way one perceives and lives one’s life. I hope this description of a steam engine will lead to new and meaningful insights about yourself.

As you get a sense of how your system naturally slows down and speeds up, you will have a much better ability to support the overall “steady state” that leads to health and well-being.

Let’s look at a steam locomotive in order to understand more about ourselves, and the importance of self-regulating mechanisms. Coal is fed into the furnace of the steam engine. The burning coal heats the water supply and turns it into steam. The steam drives the engine’s pistons which power the wheels. Too little steam and the train slows down and even stops. Too much steam and the train goes too fast and the engine is likely to blow apart. The design issue thus becomes, how to regulate between “too much” and “too little.” Not at all that different than human beings.

In order to keep the speed and power of the train within an efficient range between “too much and too little” a speed governor was designed as an integral part of the engine.

1. As the steam pressure in the engine builds, the train’s speed increases. A speed governor sits on top of the engine somewhat like the bleeder valve of an old fashioned pressure cooker. An increase in engine pressure and thus train speed lifts the “arms” of the speed governor up.

2. Each degree the arms of the speed governor raise up in response to increased pressure and speed, winds up decreasing the size of the aperture that allows steam into the engine. The smaller aperture opening leads over time to less steam pressure and the train slows down. Greater speed makes the governor’s arms go up, which in turn reduces the steam available to the engine and thus over time, the train begins to slow down.

3. As the steam pressure and speed of the train lessens, the arms of the governor go back down. As the arms go down the size of the engine aperture opening increases, and thus the amount of steam allowed into the engine increases, and the speed of the train once again begins to increase.

An ingenuous design is it not? Higher pressure, and higher speed, leads to lower pressure and lower speed, which in turn winds up leading to higher pressure and higher speed. Such is the beauty of a self regulating system. Up leads to down. Down leads to up. Faster leads to slower. Slower leads to faster. If such a self-regulating mechanism was more readily available in human beings, perhaps we would not get drunk, smoke cigarettes, or have various other naughty habits. Perhaps.

“Nature” also seems to have numerous self regulating mechanisms at work. In a climax forest for example, when “too many” trees grow in an area, there is a lessening of sunlight to the lower portions of the trees, and dampness sets in. Over time, this leads to trees dying off, which leads over time to more sunlight once again reaching the ground, which leads to a spurt in new growth of shrubs and trees.

The efficient running of a steam engine, the ecology of a forest, and healthy human beings, all require a self-regulating mechanism be in place. In this way we can say steam engines, forests, and human beings, all have “mind.” The steam engine “knows” how to fulfill its purpose, and so does the forest. Yet as human beings we often don’t do so well.

At this point in time, it seems that man has perhaps found a way to remove the governor from the engine of life, and take control over the environment and various life forms. We now have the power to control life in a manner that Nature likely never intended. Perhaps as a species, our need to “go faster” has begun to create a runaway train.

Feeling Beneath Our Fears

Listening deeply to your own mammalian nature has the power to profoundly enrich your life.

Several years ago I made the acquaintance of a new friend named Tara. She is as beautiful a Shetland sheep dog as I have ever seen. Like many of us human beings, Tara had a sad tale to tell. When just a pup, the first time she was taken for a walk she came upon a horde of kids who suddenly started shooting off firecrackers. Tara was frightened beyond belief and she escaped from her leash and bolted into the far distance. Perhaps never to be seen again her owner feared! Several hours later though, Tara made it back to her house on her own and in one piece.

When I first entered Tara’s house for a visit, she was up on the third floor where she normally hid when guests arrived. Tara’s owner told me that ever since the firecracker incident she had difficulty getting Tara to go out for a walk. Tara confined herself to the tiny backyard for her exercise and toilet activities.

Tara’s owner needed to run out on an errand. I asked for a piece or Tara’s favorite biscuit, broke it into several pieces, and set the pieces out well in front of me. I waited quietly for about ten minutes, before finally hearing the patter of little feet upstairs. Upon hearing Tara gathering up her courage and her curiosity, I began to intermittently make some playful sounds as if I was a tiny firework, showering its brilliant colors in the distance. Psss, Pahh! I concentrated on being a beautiful firework, and not a loud one. Then with my colors expended I sat quietly again and waited. It took an additional fifteen minutes for Tara to finally show her head at the top of the stairs, and then she immediately ran all the way back up to the third floor. From there it took another ten minutes before she made her way down to the ground floor, ate one piece of biscuit and then bolted upstairs again, with no intention of returning in the near future. I marveled at her braveness and was exceedingly pleased with the development of our relationship.

Starting the next day our friendship developed rapidly. This time I sat on the floor and waited with the biscuits closer to me. After a couple of fitful starts and stops, Tara was sitting on my lap. Next I introduced the leash, but didn’t try and put it on her. By the third day she was making her way down to my bedroom in the basement, wondering why I hadn’t gotten up yet. Finally, we were walking around together out in the neighborhood, and passing by the very place of her initial horror.

Tara’s friendship has been a sacred gift to me. She has helped me to better understand my own fears, and the fears of my clients. She has also helped me to understand that beneath our fear there is a longing to be reconnected to life, and to loved ones. A longing to be out and about with a friend on a mild spring day. Whenever I have a client who seems frightened, I always start out by telling them about Tara. It is amazing that a couple of cookies and a cup of tea can calm a new human client as much as Tara’s biscuits helped to calm her.

Both fear and love have specific and different organizational patterns within each of us. The electrochemical network of fear and the electrochemical network of love, as well as the network of muscle usage for the two, are quite different. Once we learn how the body communicates to us we can begin to interact and affect change on the limbic level of primary experience. Deep breathing, stroking by an appropriate other, hugging and physical closeness, all help us to know that we are not alone, and that we are protected. With our limbic-emotional system taking in such sustenance, we can relax, expand our spirit, and be in the world with a sense of belonging, comfort, safety, and excitement. What more could we really ask for from life?

From The Perspective of a Child

For a child, a summer day can seem to last forever. This is part of the beauty of a child’s perspective. At the same time, all of us, adult and child alike, sometimes freeze up and lose sense of the fact that we have a future that has not yet arrived. Here is a story of a child’s summer day in Brooklyn, New York.

When I was eight years old a truck housing a children’s ride, used to come around my neighborhood in Brooklyn. You paid your fee, had your ride, and upon exiting, you got some small thank you gift. When exiting the truck one time I got a large sheet of tattoos. I was ecstatic because there was one HUGE tattoo showing Davie Crockett killing a HUGE bear. I ran home to have the tattoo immediately applied to my bare chest, and I remember thinking how it was perfect that I did not yet have any hair on my chest because the hair would only get in the way of the tattoo. And then, as hard as this might be to believe, my father totally screwed up in applying the tattoo, and I was left with black water running down my chest, and then great big tears running down my face, as I was in a state of shock and disbelief. Feeling totally crushed I ran outside and dashed feverishly around the neighborhood hopinging to catch the truck, but it had mysteriously disappeared, perhaps already on its way to Flatbush or Coney Island. By the time the truck did come back again two weeks later, it was giving away some terribly boring small plastic whistles, and the truck never again showed up with tattoos, and in those days tattoos were not to be found in toy stores.

It can be so easy to freeze up and lose sense of the entirety of one’s life. It can be so easy to lose touch with the fact that we still have a future. As a child, especially during the summer time, each day was a grand adventure, and each day would often seem endless, and totally absorbing. This sense of fully being in the moment is one of the true gifts of childhood, and at times it can also be a liability. Because children usually have little sense of the length and breadth of their life, and any one moment can seem to extinguish the possibility of happiness in the future.

I can look back on numerous times in my life, that seemed to play a major role in determining the course of my life. In hindsight I can see that it was not the actual events that determined my future, but whether or not I perceived myself to be “lucky or unlucky”, “cursed or blessed”, “stupid or clever.”

Now I realize that each moment leads to another moment, each event leads to another event. I can choose which moments and events I want to give the most importance to, and which moments and events I will define my life by. By accepting the fact that much of what goes on in life is outside of my control, I can free myself to pay attention to the aspects of my life that I do have some ability to influence. And in times of difficult challenge I can give thanks for the future, knowing that even as day turns into night, and spring turns into summer, that my bad luck will turn into good luck, my sadness will turn to joy. Nothing stays the same.

If you look back at times that you initially thought were quite horrible or devastating, isn’t it true that most of these events, over the course of time, did not turn out to be nearly as devastating as you initially felt they were? Certainly this has been my experience.

By the way, I am still in the market for some Davey Crockett tattoos!

Recipes For Stress

It is within your power to reduce the stressful reactions that you have, and a key to changing your reactions is being able to track the way in which you generate stress.

Recently, a coaching colleague told me a story about his client “Jim” who gets into many arguments and confrontations with others. After each altercation Jim spends a good deal of time attempting to convince my coaching colleague as to how the other person’s behavior was the catalyst for what took place. One of his favorite expressions is “I hate it when people jump to conclusions without first getting all of the facts.” In return my colleague has spent a good deal of time trying to show Jim how his behavior and thinking play a key role in creating his many problems.

Recently, Jim asked my colleague to accompany him on a business trip. On the second day of their trip they are walking down the street together late at night, having just finished a marathon business negotiation. They are both feeling a little bit ill at ease because they are not familiar with their surroundings, and they are concerned they might be targeted for violence since they obviously are not part of the local population.

All of a sudden they hear another set of footsteps walking behind them. Jim wheels around to see who is following them, and as he does so the man behind them quickly places his hand inside his coat in the area of his breast pocket. Fearing the worst, Jim wheels back around and dashes out onto the street in an attempt to get away from the gun he believes the man is pulling out. Boom! Jim gets hit not by a speeding bullet, but by a speeding car.

The man who Jim had been frightened by runs towards him as he lays bleeding on the street, and uses the handkerchief he already has in his hand, to stem the flow of Jim’s blood. It turns out that luckily for Jim the man is a doctor. Fairly soon the bleeding is stopped and it appears that Jim will need some stiches and a cast for his broken left leg, and after about thirty minutes an ambulance arrives to take Jim to the hospital.

Once Jim is on the stretcher and before being hoisted up into the ambulance he thanks the man for his help, and then asks, “Excuse me, but do you mind if I ask you what you were pulling out from under your coat when I first turned around to confront you?” “Why the very same hankerchief I used to stem the flow of your blood.” the doctor says. “I have been having my usual spring allergy response, and I was just ready to have a violent sneeze when you all of a sudden dashed out in the street and totally distracted me. My goodness, just now I am realizing that this is the first time today I have gone more than ten minutes without sneezing!”

“Now please let me ask you a question.” the doctor says. “Why in the world did you jump out in the street immediately upon seeing me?” Jim quickly replies “Well, we were in a dangerous neighborhood, and all of a sudden out of nowhere you were following us, and it seemed clear that you were reaching for a gun or other weapon. How would you expect me to react?”

The doctor smiles and says “Well, my friend, it seems to me that you jumped to numerous inaccurate conclusions. First you thought that the neighborhood was dangerous when in fact it is one of the safest neighborhoods in our city, although most likely a much poorer neighborhood than where you come from. Since you thought you were in a dangerous place you were predisposed to something dangerous taking place. I am guessing the fact that it was late at night, only added to your sense of fear.” “Yes” Jim said, “All of what you say is true.”

“And the fact that initially there was no one else walking on the street except for the two of you, most likely made my footsteps sound much louder and more ominous. Is this not so?” Jim slowly nods “Yes.”

“So” the doctor continued, “With those kinds of thoughts and fears running around in your head, when I stepped out of my house to go visit a patient you immediately thought that I was following you although frankly I hadn’t even really noticed you, as I was beginning a build up to a big sneeze.” “The only thing that made sense to you in the frame of mind you were in, was to believe that I was a criminal pulling out a weapon.” “I’m sorry.” Jim said.
“No need to be sorry.” the doctor says. “You have not caused me any harm.” “Indeed you have helped me to have a much clearer understanding of how my clients create stress for themselves.”

The doctor pauses for a moment and then says, “Let’s imagine that you and your friend were walking down this very same street, but at two o’clock in the afternoon instead of late at night, and there was one or two people already walking in front of you, and one person already walking behind you at a comfortable distance. How do you think you would respond to my coming out of my house in such an instance?” “Hmm.” says Jim. “I might not have even noticed you!”

“And here is another idea the doctor says. “What if everything initially happened just like it did this evening, but you had taken some self defense training and felt confident in your ability to defend yourself, and also perhaps partly because of your training, you had the tendency to be both relaxed and aware. How do you think you would have responded then?” “I can’t say for sure since I never had such training.” Jim says, “But pretty much guaranteed at the very least I would not have jumped out in front of the car.”

“And since you have been so kind so far.” the doctor says, “One more thing if you don’t mind.” “Your fear of being in dangerous surroundings led you to block out the only real danger that was present – A car speeding down the street. Perceiving danger all around you, you jumped in front of the only danger there was, and thus you created a self fulfilling prophecy.”
“Yes” Jim says, “I feel quite humbled. This is a difficult way to learn a very important lesson. But better that I learned this lesson today rather than continuing to struggle for many years to come. Now I can truly understand what happens when one consistently jumps to conclusions without having all of the facts, and assumes that something terrible will take place. Thank you for all of your assistance.”

Does this story have any special relevance to you and how you sometimes react to what is going on around you? In any one circumstance there can be many possible responses. and many possible outcomes. Have a different set of beliefs and you will respond differently. Have a different set of capabilities and training and you will respond differently. Change the way you use your body and you will respond differently. Change the environment that you are in and you will respond differently.

To learn to track the way in which you generate stress, try one of the classic Seishindo Practices – “Body + Language = Emotional Experience”.

Stress is a particular emotional state. Emotion consists of language AND body. Emotion is a system that is coherent at a deeper level than language or body taken separately. When your emotional state changes there is a concurrent change in your body, and in your use of language (including your internal thought processes). When your emotions truly change, you will notice a change in the way you use your body AND a change in the way you think about and describe your experience. When your emotions truly change you will feel better about who you are and what you are capable of. Greater self awareness leads to a more relaxed and creative use of your entire system. When you feel better, you think better, and new solutions begin to become apparent. All of which leads to a greater likelihood that you will meet the challenges you face with great success.