Stay Loose and Open Up

I had the huge privilege of attending Pema Chodron’s retreat and teachings at Omega Institute on “The Marks of Our Existence” recently.  The workshop centered on what she called the 4 Facts of Life:  impermanence, egolessness, suffering, and peace.   It wasOpen and Expand a weekend of profound depth coupled with practical simplicity (and a few side-splitting laughs) offered up by one of Buddhism’s most recognizable and venerated teachers.

There is so much I am taking away from this experience. One gift in particular revolves around the concept of constriction. Pema taught that whenever we might feel fear, judgment, displeasure, anger, hatred, or some other “negative” emotion about something we constrict.  Not only are our minds constricted and fixated on our opinion of a situation, but our bodies follow suit.  We experience tightness in our muscles, our chest, our stomachs, our breathing shortens, we work up a sweat, and so forth.  We clench our jaws, our fists, and occasionally lash out verbally or physically in our frustration or pain; the intensity of which is determined by the situation and how tightly we hold our views.

  • Don’t just take my word for this, test it out for yourself.  Bring to mind something or someone that is irritating you right now and notice what happens in your body and mind.
  • Do you feel constriction in your thoughts? Your body?
  • Does the world and its possibilities seem smaller?  (Something like:  “You’re wrong, I’m right, things shouldn’t be this way”?)

In times like these, Pema taught us a simple (not necessarily easy!) and very practical approach to navigating these murky waters.  That is, when you feel constricted, tight, and fixated on something, open up and expand.

In my translation, that means you ask yourself:

  • “How can I stay loose in this situation?
  • How can I stay loose with these feelings or sensations I am having?”

From here you can open up or expand into more possibility, greater peace of mind, and equanimity.

Some ways you can do this practice in the heat of the moment are to:

  • physically move
  • open your stance
  • spread your arms wide
  • go for a walk
  • smile
  • breathe more deeply
  • gaze at an image that expands your view (nature, spiritual icon, a beautiful object, flowing water, etc.).
  • anything else that makes you open wide …

From this space you can stay loose in your experience thereby opening your possibilities, your heart, your ability to respond to what lies before you.

Again, don’t take my word for it… try it.  [Read more…]

The Power of Negative Thinking

That’s right. Negativity is powerful and negative thinking is more powerful than positive thinking. Whoa! You heard me right; negativity is a force to be reckoned with.

The only problem with it is that it will attract to you all the things you most want to avoid. And, as an added bonus, you’ll feel awful each day along your journey. The reason I say it is more powerful than positive thinking is because of its damaging exponential ripple effect.

Have you ever been near someone who is just grouchy and miserable and negative?  One of those business owners that are all doom and gloom?  Has that person ever been you?

Whether the negative vibes and messages you are hearing come from those around you or from within your own self-talk, you are at risk.  Negativity tends to snowball into a big pity party combined with a sour mood, bad attitude, and correspondingly bad experiences.  Before you know it, opportunities dry up, cash flow looks like a clogged drain, and you’re wondering, how could this happen to me? If you’ve ever had “one of those days” and had it get progressively worse as the day went on, you know what I mean. It is like even though you know better, you just can’t seem to stop the snowball from gathering size and speed as it rolls downhill.

Why is that? Well, just as positive thinking and surrounding yourself with positive people can have far reaching positive effects, the same holds true with its negative sibling. Goodness knows there is no shortage of people that will join you in your bitch session, so I’d suggest that the negative spiral can get bigger even faster than positivity. To make matters worse, these bitch sessions of commiserating with one another about how money/the economy/finding clients/ is hard and blaming others is a far more popular and acceptable sport (at least by social standards) than actually taking a hard look at one’s life and making a change.

Let’s face it, life happens and it is not always positive. In fact I admit I can get in a funk with the best of them. An occasional Dilbert inspired moment can blindside me and I find myself cranky (at best) and temporarily hopeless (at worst). I know I have a bigger vision for my business and a plan to make it happen and that gets me through. The bumps along the way can be a pain though so I wanted to share some tips I use for snapping out of a negative spiral. [Read more…]

Afraid to Fail? Don’t Be…

I’ve seen this video on a few different occasions and I just love it. If you are afraid of failing, get over it.  You haven’t even begun to live if you haven’t failed at something.  Those who do great things always keep going and don’t listen to the voices of doom.

Your Big BUT is in Your Way

Excuses Holding You BackYes you read that right…your big ole BUT is in your way.

Note: Before you get offended, particularly if you’re skimming this article – notice I did not add a second T in BUT!

Your BUT is in the way of having the:

  • Life you REALLY want personally and professionally
  • Prosperity you deserve (more profitability, more money, more time, more love, more peace…)
  • Experiences you yearn for

Why is your BUT the culprit?  Because when you say something and then put a BUT in the middle of the sentence you essentially negate everything that came before it. Instead you give power and affirmation to your excuses and everyday reasons for why you can’t have what you want. This keeps you in more of the same-old and stuck like sap on your favorite pair of blue jeans.

For example…

I really want to make more money and be profitable in my business BUT I couldn’t possibly charge what I’m worth.  (Meaning of this sentence? I can’t charge what I’m worth).

I wish I could take more time away to do the things I really want to do (have fun, adventures, travel, just chill out) BUT my business and to-do list is holding me hostage. (Meaning of this sentence? I allow my business and to-do list to run my life and refuse to choose something different.)

I really need to get organized and focused BUT I ever seem to have the time to get around to it. (Meaning of this sentence? I choose to stay busy and distract myself rather than face what IS.)

Get the point? When you put your big BUT forward you stand proud in your justifications as to why you can’t have what you want; why things can’t be different.

Believe me I am not preaching from on high here. I used to have the biggest BUT in the land.  I mean really, really BIG. There was a time where I could barely spit out a few sentences without throwing my BUT around.  I had a realistic reason for why things were the way they were and why I could never create what I wanted.  I had an excuse for everything. I could lead every conversation with a litany of reasons and examples as to why something could never possibly work.

Do you know where that got me?

Absolutely nowhere.  I experienced more of the same and usually things got worse (more chaotic, more things went wrong, more misery).  In the process I also managed to alienate some of the closest people in my life.  I lost friendships, my relationship went on the rocks, and I frankly felt like the only saving grace to all this would be to get a terminal illness.

I am not kidding here.  To say my glass was half empty is an understatement. Let’s try half empty with a hole in the bottom.  It was not attractive, not productive, and while I like to believe it made me feel better in a righteous way, it actually made me feel desperate and hopeless.  And let’s remember for context here, we’re not talking about my hiding in a corner languishing during this period of my life. I was out there, succeeding in the workplace and achieving ongoing goals.  I was getting promoted and increasing my earnings.

BUT the bottom was falling out.  (See how I just used BUT effectively?)

So, how about you?  Where in your life are you letting your BUT get in the way?  Does it show up when you go to networking events? Set and communicate your prices?  Want to take time to do something you love?

No one is immune to the big BUT. We’re human. However, you can learn to undo its damage.

Here’s my coach’s request to you:

1)     Be on the lookout and start noticing where your BUT shows up.

2)     When it does show up, replace your BUT with an AND.  AND opens to possibilities and allows both realities to be true at the same time.  I really want to take that trip to Italy AND I am in the process of determining how I can make that happen.

3)     Notice what happens when you start to call yourself out on your own excuses and open to possibilities.

Then start to enjoy the process of getting more aligned with your authentic self and what you really want. You’ll find that all the things you want to create start to happen more frequently and with less effort.

Need help getting out of your own way (You can’t see what you can’t see!)? I can help you break free of the tyranny of your own BUT… AND in order to do that, you need to take a step?  That step is to contact me for an exploratory conversation today.

Photo Credit:Valerie bb via Flickr

Do You Believe What You Want is Possible for You?

What is Possible for YouCan you see and feel yourself having, doing, or being what you really want?  If  you can’t you are closing the door to the possibility of realizing it in your life.  If you do this you are likely to end up feeling stuck, hopeless, and frustrated because you may be putting forth all kinds of effort but wondering why you’re not seeing the results and evidence in your life that you want to be seeing.

After going through David Neagle’s Golden Touch training class recently, I started studying several books that I either hadn’t read before or had read but just let go in one ear and out the other (not too effective for results, right?).  Now all these books are written by men (primarily already dead, historic men) which is probably why I dismissed them in the first place. I find my most passionate inspiration (as a general rule) from women who inspire me.  I look to living role models that embody the qualities I want to amplify in myself.  So, it is with a great leap of faith that I’ve delved into these books.  Yet I came across a quote in the out of print book God Works Through Faith by Robert Russell that really hit home as a reminder of a concept I already knew, but perhaps wasn’t embracing as much as I needed to to get to my next level of growth and success.

We can never go beyond the realization of our mental equivalents. We shall never experience a good which is beyond our capacity to conceive and to receive.

I translate this as – if you can’t see something as a possibility for you and your life, no matter how much you desire it, it isn’t going to happen.  You may see these results as possible for others, but unless you can feel it as possible for you, it will be impossible for you to manifest that in your life.  And, if all this talk of spiritual things or God, Spirit, Buddha, Source (whatever language works for you) is not resonating for you, let me explain it in a different way.  In the movie Caddyshack, Bill Murray is telling Danny (the golf champion want-to-be) to “Be the ball Danny, Be the Ball”. Meaning you need to fully be one with what you want.  Connection, full immersion, focus, and 100% impenetrable belief.  Be your future, be the embodiment of what you most want to see happen, right now.

I chose this picture I took in Millennium Park while in Chicago for BlogHer ’09 for this post because this big metal sculpture creates what appears to be an optical illusion.  Its twisted reflections of people and the skyline morph into a surreal view.  I took this picture underneath the structure where there was a crowd of people. As you look at it there appears to be hundreds of people at all angles and different directions. It clearly shows you an image of what is seemingly impossible, yet here it is right before your eyes, right?  So is it real and possible or not?  Well, you get to decide… and that is message of this post.  What you desire is yours to create.  But first you need to BE it and your “mental equivalents” which would be your mindset and beliefs need to be expansive enough to allow the possibility to become reality for you.

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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