Can We Be The Change We Wish To See?

The Scream. By Edvard Munch

– What do you see when you look at that person from the “other” political party speaking their “truth” at you like you don’t have a single functioning brain cell?

– What do you see when you look at the people from another religion who dress and act differently from you?

– What do you see when you look at the homeless person on the street corner?

– What do you see when you look at the man in the Ferrari, who just cut you off in traffic?

Many times we get triggered. We find ourselves irritated, angry, anxious or even afraid when we meet people who seem different from us. They look odd, they sound strange, they might talk about things that we find absurd. Or they might simply invade our personal space and push our buttons.

Yesterday I was having a delightful conversation with a group of people. We talked about if God has a face. Some of us felt the question was irrelevant. Others felt that God is an entity too large for personification. And then someone simply said:

– “Of course God has a face – it is the face of everybody I see”

I wonder what would happen if we started looking at everybody like they were a personification of God? Or if God is a concept you do not subscribe to, then what would happen if you looked at everybody like they were a part of you?

What would happen in our political process if the boundaries between “us and them” ceased to exist?

What would happen in religion, if we stopped name-calling (or killing) those from another faith than our own?

What would happen?

Maybe we would feel less anger towards “those other people”.

In neuroscience it has been found that anger interrupts the functioning of our frontal brain lobes where rational thought, compassion and empathy take place. When angry, we return to an emotionally charged and primitive behavioral pattern that is very useful if we were a dinosaur (or if we are in legitimate danger) – but maybe not all that practical for a modern-day human being living in a complex world. We tend to feel self-justified and self-righteous. We get reactive and are not able to respond with kindness or even with a rational outlook.

Instead we turn into an emotional loud-mouthed (or internally raging) person.

What would happen if our political discussions were not conducted from this place of opposition, but rather from an inclusive place of “we’re all in this together”. Or if the warring fractions in religious wars reminded themselves that they are really both reflections of the face of God?

It takes a conscious intention to change the way our brain does business. But neuroscience shows it can be done. And reminding ourselves that our “enemies” are in fact a part of us, or have the face of God, might help. It is easy to look at a newborn baby and see the face of God. But can you look at Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner the same way?

Just food for thought.

Why would you want to?

Well, sometimes our normal anger response, the sense of “knowing better” and the feeling of the other side being inferior does not bring us any solutions or a lasting sense of achievement. We simply mire ourselves more and more in our habitual thinking patterns. And the world doesn’t change if we don’t.

So what do we have to lose? Next time we are tempted to go on the offensive whether in action or in our thoughts – maybe it makes sense to give it a try:

-“I am looking at the face of God”

-“I am looking at a part of me”

Maybe we will find that as we unlock new thinking patterns in our brain, new solutions come to mind.

Maybe, as we discover what it feels like to not hide behind our bastions of preconceived notions, we also find a new sense of empathy and understanding.

Maybe it is worth a try….

Good Grief! I Am Falling!

Yesterday morning I was walking at 4:30AM. It was foggy and dark. A delicious time to walk in peace and quiet. The fog was like thick oatmeal and the dampness of the air was invigorating, sprinkling my face with a cool mist. I was lost in thoughts as I walked. I felt connected to all and nothing in particular.

And then I got the brilliant idea: to break my meditative state and

….drumroll……

check the e-mails on my phone!

Now if I had stopped, or even slowed down, to glance at the ever-present piece of technology, well – that would have been one thing. But of course I didn’t. I walked on in the fog.

All was well until suddenly an object reached out and grabbed both my legs and abruptly stopped their forward motion and enveloped them in a sharp, unforgiving, agonizing pain. The top of my body was well on its way to the next step – and my legs were hindered by this mysterious object.

“Holy s… I am going over – gosh this hurts

My survival instincts were in full attack mode. What on earth was happening? Did someone grab my legs with metal thongs, and next thing I know I am going to be hauled into an unmarked white van never to be heard from again?

Time slowed down, as it tends to do in these types of fight or flight experiences. All I could do was to try to balance myself somehow and not fall over. I was flailing in the air, making the most ungracious moves to remain standing. I did not want to drop the phone on the hard sidewalk concrete either.

By some amazing grace, I managed to not topple, and also to keep my phone in my hand.

It was time to assess what had “grabbed my legs”.

I looked down to see an innocent, yet very unmovable-looking fire hydrant! It was down low and I had not seen it in my phone-absorbed awareness. Well, at least I did not have to fight off the imagined guys in the white van… However, what I never realized about fire hydrants is that they have really, really sharp bolts on them. HUGE bolts, which on this one were covered in black, oily grease. And on both my legs were now big black scrapes and throbbing bruises from these contraptions.

It hurt like crazy.

Now the old me would have frozen. I would have been enveloped in pain and bent over – stopped in my tracks. My first thoughts would have been along these lines:

-“Crap, I am just so stupid! I know not to walk in fog and look at my phone at the same time- Duh!”

-“Jeez, I wonder who saw that? That must have looked ridiculous… maybe someone is having a good laugh at me?”
– “I am just such a klutz!”

-“Why does this kind of stuff always happen to me?”

I would have been petrified by the pain, and humiliated by my own thoughts. The walk would probably have ended with me limping home – or calling a cab. I would have felt like crap. Icepacks would have been applied and I would have been there in my house feeling victimized by the stupid hydrant that happened to be in my way.

What was interesting about this experience this time, was the fact that after I assessed the damage, I actually managed to just keep walking. As my legs throbbed, I seemingly moved through the pain. Words popped into my head that were very different to how I would have responded for most of my life. I felt grateful for my body’s ability to balance itself. I felt competent that I had managed to hold on to the phone and not fall. I thanked the Universe for giving me this reminder that my walks (especially in the fog and with jet lag) are for feeling connected. A connectedness that does NOT involve technology! How lucky was I that I could receive this reminder without falling off a cliff or getting run over by a car?

As I kept walking, the pain became a warm almost pleasant tingle. It was as if the blood, rushing through my body, allowed the pain to transform into this awareness of new lessons learned.

There is a saying that goes like this:

“Pain is inevitable – Suffering is optional”

And yes, we certainly cannot escape pain in our lives. It is a fact of life. From beginning to end, we will run into episodes of hurt. It is what we do with it those painful experiences that makes a difference: Pain is what the world does to us. Suffering is often brought on by what we do to ourselves by how we react to it. By how we think about the it. By what we take the pain to mean.

In coaching, when we experience pain, we often look for “what is real” about it. What is inevitable. And then we work to separate “what is” from what we take it to mean. Often we feel liberated and lighter when we free ourselves from our self-imposed interpretations and assumptions. And our suffering lessens.

What might you take the “fire hydrants” to mean in your life?

Why Death Doesn’t Scare Me… (It might not be what you think!)

Photo by: Jonathan Trout

I almost died when I was eight years old. The experience was one of resignation. I had gotten really sick. Nobody, in the whole country of Denmark, could figure out what was wrong with me. Nothing showed up on tests. And as they kept testing, I just kept losing weight. I could not eat. My legs stopped working and I lost my ability to walk – and eventually I was unable to even sit up in my bed. At the hospital they put me in isolation. And there I was; drifting in and out of consciousness, floating between realities. Most of the time I was in an alternate reality, which I found to be a peaceful place. I was still in this world of flesh, yet I had a sense of something much more “real” was just “across the way”. I did float out of my body on occasion. I had no major sights or experiences other than seeing the room, I was in,  from different vantage points. I had no visitations or voices come to me, yet I felt at peace and completely safe. Death did not even occur to me. I was in a place “between realities” and found the experience reassuring. It was as if my extra-sensory apparatus got enhanced as my bodily functions dwindled. And I did not care about pain. They stuck a big fat needle in my spine at one point to retrieve some spinal fluid without any kind of anesthesia. And it was just fine with me. It felt unreal. It felt as if my body was experiencing pain, but I was free of it. I could not be hurt or even care. I was ready to transcend all earthly pain and pettiness; I was ready to float away.

A nurse, who was assigned to be my caretaker, penetrated my bubble. She literally broke through my protecting barrier by lowering the metal bars around my bed. She sat down unceremoniously at the foot of my bed and started reading to me. As she read aloud, her soft, chime-like voice enveloped me like a supple blanket of sweetness. She read simple stories of love and heroism. Not the stories of “good literature”, my mother preferred, but novels from the Danish Women’s Magazines. The nurse gave me her un-divided attention. She brought me saucers with a few cookies and soda in a tiny metal cup. I had not wanted to eat food – but the orange soda and the cookies got my attention! She literally managed to get me engaged in trying to stay alive through her little spoonfuls of sugar! Never underestimate the power of well-timed and well-presented simple carbohydrates and easily digested pop literature! And her uncomplicated and ever-present care for me gave me enough reason to believe life here on earth might be worth living. Her undemanding company and emotional presence healed me. Her simple joi de vivre gave me the will to force myself back into this reality. She gave me a view of a way of life that allowed a lightness of being.

Since then life has been a choice for me. I choose to be here, and I also choose to make the most of it! The early brush with death taught me that the true value of my life is Joy, Love and Celebration. These are the values that I have sought to fill my life with, and to be a conduit of for others. In retrospect it seems to me that my “checking out early” was an avoidance maneuver for me. It was as if there was a more suitable place for me to be in the after-life, and only through the reminder of connectedness, made manifest in human love and compassion, joy and celebration, I was able to choose the plight of earthly life. We all know the elements that make the human condition a real hassle: The pain of birth, the heartaches, the disappointments, the terror of ownership, the fear of poverty, loss and the fear of death to name a few! Taking on human life includes the willingness to be the tossed on the waves of circumstance. Not at all an attractive a choice, if you have had a glimpse of what it might be like on the other side! However, I also feel that the human condition is uniquely shaped to demonstrate that Creation is what we make of it; that our consciousness shapes our reality. We are able to choose not necessarily what happens to us, but what we take it to mean! The human condition includes constant cross roads, where our choice ultimately is between Fear and Love. As creators of our perceptions, we also may co-create on many dimensions and in many realms. If the thoughts of a scientist can affect whether an electron “shows up” as either a particle or in  waveform, then our thoughts might be infinitely powerful in many ways. Life here is thus a responsibility where every thought, emotion and action has consequences for us, for others, for physical life on the planet and beyond. We can affect physical reality. This responsibility can be felt as a burden or as a gift. The choice is ours. And maybe we will be more inclined to experience the blessings of our physical existence, if we know more about the realities beyond it. An encounter with and awareness of a different level of existence might enable us to face the details of earthly life with more perspective and freedom to a live fully sans fear.

At age 18 I started a journey of self-discovery that included everything Stanislav Grof had ever written. I felt a resonance with his descriptions of alternate states of consciousness. His books gave me, for the first time, at chance to start to explain experiences, which up until that point had been non-verbal and only felt. This journey of discovery has continued ever since. Carolyn Myss’ work was another stepping stone in languaging the pre-verbal for me. From there Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ work was a revelation. Many other authors have helped plant their translations of the alternate reality in my garden of perception. And for their contributions to my piecing together my own understanding of the totality of being, I am profoundly grateful.

Soon I am embarking on a week long seminar with Raymond Moody as part of my studies. He is someone who likewise has been a pivotal documenter and translator of this reality beyond the veil of physical reality.  My focus will be on continuing to pick up ways to translate the experience of the “alter-life” to find expression here in our earthly plain. My overall goal in life is to be a bridge between these realities. I strive to find ways to help myself and others grasp the importance of not getting stuck in the narrow field of vision of reductive realism. At the same time it is important for me not to allow the flights of fancy and flakiness that comes from leaving behind one’s analytical faculty. So as I prepare for this intensive, I wish to engage my inner trinity: My brain, my heart and my intuition.

Ultimately my goal is to further my understanding of how to continually bring joy, love and celebration, the effortless lightness of being, that permeates the Universe into the field of human awareness. Studying our feelings and the facts surrounding the topic of death is ultimately only a useful proposition if we use it to further our understanding of a greater reality than our physical human existence.  This way studying the circumstances of death enables us to enjoy and appreciate our life more fully here and now – not in retrospect – but as we live it!

What is Life Coaching?

Often we have no clue what we really want!
We just sense that our wheels are spinning, and we also are aware that we are not really “getting anywhere.” We seem to use a good deal of effort, yet we get pennies on the dollar with regards to return on our “energy investment.”We might feel exhausted and a large part of our energy appears to be wasted. We do not get the results we want. We find ourselves easily frustrated, angered or saddened. We might feel out of control, depressed or anxious!
Life is not a spectator sport, yet we might feel that we are sitting in the bleachers watching other people play the game, while we are wasting all our time and energy simply cheering or jeering. “Life is hard,” we say and shrug our shoulders!

                                  Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Coaching can help you to connect those spinning wheels to the track!
And what happens? Well, you start moving in the direction of your choosing! You are no longer merely watching the game being played, you are playing it! You discover that just like an athlete you can train your success muscles and experience them grow and become increasingly adept at handling every activity you choose to participate in! You realize that winning or losing is not what truly matters – all that matters is that you play! And that you learn to focus your energy to work for exactly what you want, rather than wasting it on what you really do not want. Now you also discover that you can be infinitely more efficient and loving towards other people in your life.
It is not just you that benefits! It is everybody around you!
Larger than Life Coaching takes people from merely “ok” to optimal! We help our clients to connect to their passion in new ways. Clients discover their innate power. Not power over others, but power to be who they truly are! This is where those spinning wheels get traction! And it gets exciting to see what happens! As a train or a stage coach moves from station to station, you build on success after success.
You discover that not only do you have all it takes for you to live the life you want, everything you have ever experienced has given you exactly the tools you need to achieve it!

Visit my Website to read more and feel free to e-mail me with any questions you have.


 

The Blues – The Flood – and The Flow of Life

 
This morning started with a phone call from the babysitter that our house had flooded! She sounded calm, yet had an urgency in her voice that let me know that this was indeed pretty serious. Turns out a hot water pipe had burst and flooded the house – and it was ankle deep in many places. To add insult to injury a “rain forest” effect had developed and water was dripping from the ceiling, the walls were drenched and all the electronics in the house were likewise coated in condensation!
I am in Memphis attending the Blues Music Awards. Right now there are floods in many states in the Heartland as well as here in the South caused by the Mississippi swelling and flooding. With this new information about my own flooding at home I find myself feeling a kinship with all the people who right now are in a similar situation – or in fact in much worse situations than I am in. Nonetheless I experience the insecurity, the doubts, the feeling of being powerless. As the stream of destruction has invaded my sacred domicile, a stream of questions and uncertainty seems to now similarly flood my mind: How bad is the damage? How much will be have to replace? Will insurance cover any or all of it? Are we going to have to move out for a while?
Walking down Main Street of Memphis with my husband by the hand, we soak in the sounds and the impressions around us with renewed intensity. A man is in the park with the sun shining down through the green leafy trees. He is black and past his prime. He plays his harmonica and sings of the heartache he feels. Something about the chords of the blues scale speak to me. In the open-hearted state I am in with all the uncertainty surrounding this flood at home, the chords of the blues progression go beyond any point they have gone before. Beyond reason. Beyond the mind. Beyond analysis. And also beyond my emotions. I allow myself to just feel enveloped and embraced by the eternal kinship – the never-ending identification with all people, black or white, brown or yellow that have ever been in a place of worry, fear, sorrow or pain through the soft, soothing and cyclical chords of the blues progression. We connect through time and space in the Blues.
I look at my husband – and he tells me that this is how the Blues always has spoken to him: The soft embrace of kinship – a feeling of being one with others who have been there before. And in this place of affinity is also a space where loneliness and uncertainty feels comforted and held by the consciousness of all – the flow of life itself.
And in this place of understanding I connect to the Blues in a new way, I also find a new purpose in partnering with a performer of this genre who brings this music to so many. I feel the real power of the Blues: The way it connects us to the deepest regions of our hearts and souls – the places that are beyond ourselves and thereby connects us straight to God and allows us to not feel alone anymore! I have the Blues today – and in spite of all the connotations of uncertainty and doubt – it is a beautiful, meaningful and revelatory experience.