Friday, May 26, 2017

Gratitude: You can be in fear or gratitude, but not both

Week One, Day One: LOVE
Concept #1: The brain can be in fear or gratitude. But not both. Chose Gratitude.

Three Games to Transform your Life, anytime, anywhere

On June 20, 2015, I walked down the street on which I lived, to meet a woman I knew and admired and liked, but with whom I thought I had no “romantic” expectations. We were going to meet for a lunch and “study” session. I was writing a book on radical listening. She was smart and kind and I wanted her input. Her name was Carol Williams then.
It’s Carol Elms now.

One of the glories of my life on that day when I walked unexpectedly into a new and wonderful life was my practice of Gratitude.
I had a gratitude journal, in which I was writing three to five times a day.
Writing gratitudes does many things for you, and was doing them for me.
It focuses you on what you love about and appreciate about life.
By doing so, it keeps your attention on what you WANT in life, not on the complaints and Don’t Wants that so many lose their attention  in. 
Gratitude has been proven to help shift our brains. These wonderful brains of ours have been shown scientifically to be able to be in either gratitude or in fear.
But not both.
Repeat: our brains can be in gratitude or fear. But not both. 
Our hearts can be in fear or gratitude. But not both.

So when I walked a half a block down to the house that is now Carol and my house, I wasn’t in fear.
I was focused on what I love and like and was grateful for in life.
I wasn’t counting on a miracle, nor was Carol, whose prayer practice included a ton of gratitude. So, expecting a miracle or not, gratitude had us both ready and able to let it unfold.
We talked about my book. She had some great ideas. I had one pretty good idea. There is a “game” in that book (which comes in this book on week one, day four) where you take “turns” talking. You set a timer, and one talks and one listens. No interrupting. If the talker slows, pauses, stops, the listener keeps silent until the timer chimes.
The mindless pattern of most conversation is shifted radically: no interrupting. “Just” listening. Time is granted to concentrate on what is really important to you as the speaker.
Time is granted to be really listening when that is your turn.
Really listening.
Each person gets equal “air time.”
You look eye to eye, and concentrate on being present as much as on saying what you want to say. Even more, you pay attention to actually listening to what the other is saying.
We liked this.
We played this a while.
And then another hour.
And then another hour.
And before we knew it,  the one and a half hour lunch meeting had turned into a twelve hour “non-date,” at the end of which, we were pretty darn sure we’d meet the love mate that we’d almost, but not quite, feared wasn’t out there.
And we had our secret fuel: we were in gratitude.
So fear didn’t win.
The miracle did.

And now it’s time for you to start your miracles coming along:

Love Game #1: 
Stand up
Stand in a slightly different spot. Think a “grumpy/ poor me” thought.
Now move to the Real You spot.
Say three gratitudes aloud.

That’s it. Nothing to wait for. Do it now.
Notice the difference.
This isn’t theory.
This is discovering: what will gratitude do for your brain/ your “real self” right now.

Right now.
Don’t put down the book.
Don’t worry if you are in the bookstore.
Wherever you are, people will smile, or want to smile if they hear you complete these three sentences.
“I am grateful….”
“I am grateful…”
“I am grateful…”

That wasn’t so bad, right?

And why do this?
Because you want to go out to lunch with someone and have it turn into the marriage of your life.
Or, you want to shift your momentum: since the brain can’t be in fear and gratitude at the same time, stating gratitude lifts you into the self that is the real you. 
(Did you notice the shift/ dissolution of the grumpy/ poor me mind?)

Why else indulge/ partake/ pursuit/ enjoy gratitude?
You want to keep up happy momentum, since the Universe / God likes to be thanked when things go well for you.
Or, you want to point more energy from the Universe/ God unto what you love and like in life, and being grateful is one of the quickest ways to do that.


This isn’t a book to look at, read, get lost in, have some more “good ideas,” get excited to give it to someone who needs it.
You need it.
I need it.
We all need gratitude as an almost constant dose.
Like smiling.
And happiness.

Love game #2: 
Write Three Gratitudes
Sit over on the edge of your chair, and again, think some sort of “grumpy/ poor me” thoughts.
Then shift to the center of your chair, smile, take a deep breath and..
…in the “real self” center of the chair…
Write now, right now, write and finish these three sentences:

“I am grateful…”
“I am grateful…”
“I am grateful…”

Good. That wasn’t so hard, either.
Can you feel the difference.
Can you feel that you can’t really stay grumpy when you are in gratitude.
There are deeper and more cleansing ways to heal the sour and hurt part of our minds, and gratitude is seemingly the quickest way to get back on track with loving life in a way that life will love you back.

Soon, you’ll get a journal.
This will be a precious companion, I suspect.
Mine certainly is.
Almost every other day, one of my gratitudes is, “I am grateful that I have a practice of writing gratitudes in a gratitude journal.”
Writing it down is good.
For your brain.
For your soul.
For your life.

Don’t believe me.
Try it and see how it goes.

And write now, even if you have no pen and no paper. Write it in the air, or on your leg with your finger.
There is something about hand writing that activates a more full part of your brain than if you type it into a computer or thumb it into a phone. Let the bigger/ more young/ more real you write out at least three gratitudes.
Why is it nice to have them on paper or in your “gratitude journal?”
You can look at them and read them again.
You have a place you are collecting your positive and thankful attention to life.
You know you have a commitment to waking up from fear and living in the wonder of life, the delight of life, the “yes” of life.


Now, stand up. Jump and wiggle a little and play Gratitude Game Number three, which includes a little bit of an enlightenment concept that is crucial to your life, and we need to sneak it in right here.

Enlightenment Bonus Concept: 
Concept #2: 

You know about kids, right? They goof around, are silly and get deliriously happy now and then.
Why not you?

Here’s one way to begin practicing BOTH SILLINESS & GRATITUDE on the same day, day one of your new adventure toward love, lust and enlightenment.

Love / Gratitude Game #3:
Bend down and feel all small and constricted and think the “grumpy/ poor me” thoughts.
Now, straighten up. Move to a new spot and…

Hands above your head ( if an easy “do”)
Spin a bit and
Say three or more gratitudes

That’s it.
Standing is required. We sit too much in modern life.
Jumping is necessary: we need to get up off the ground.
And, jumping requires us to be coordinated in a quick way that very little else can.
Being silly is necessary: without humor, life is death.
Laughter and silliness is the antidote to the serious/ glum/ grumpy/ worried/ pissed/ annoyed self that has WAY too much control of our life.

Near a window, or outdoors is suggested.
Barefoot or at least in socks is better: connection to Nature is part of lust and enlightenment: your real feet like to touch the real Earth.  Noticing your body in this present moment. This is our million year old heritage.

So, stand, maybe outside, maybe barefoot.
Put your arms over your head.
Wiggle your hands around.
Jump in a circle, both directions.
And while you are doing this say three or four or more gratitudes.

Then, go take a walk outside, maybe even singing about what you are grateful for.
Or skipping.
Who knows what you’ll invent with the fear gone and the joy in ascendancy.  Good.

Summary of Day One:

Gratitude is the way out of fear.
Gratitude paves the path to miracles in your life.
Write gratitudes.
Say gratitudes.
Jump up and down with gratitude.
Silliness is next to Godliness.

Start a gratitude journal.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Goals for the Life you Really Want

Week Two, Day Six: Enlightenment as Choice
Concept # 13: Complaints keep us weak and stuck
Goals give us a direction

This is fun.
This is life changing.
This is so obvious it’s amazing that not many people do this.

It’s simple.
And we are so habituated to complaining and blaming and worrying, we almost never think of this.

And yet, with all this naked making out, and forgiving and talking about gratitudes, we can realize:



And now, we return once more to June 20, 2015. I am walking down the street, half a block away to a woman’s house, Carol Williams. I admire this woman, and have known her for ten sessions of the Feldenkrais Method® I mentioned earlier. The lessons are mainly in silence, mainly about creating learning in her body/ brain. And there is room for talking , since the program is neither therapy nor massage/ relaxation based.
It’s paying attention.
It’s trying new things.
It’s learning at a subtle and non-verbal level.

I’ve gotten to know that she is a generous woman, that she helped start a non-profit in St. Louis. I’ve gotten to know that learning is deeply important to her. I’ve gotten to know she is interested in centering prayer, which a good friend of mine uses as a way of combining his Christianity and a somewhat Buddhist stance of silence and inner awakening.
So, she seems interesting.
And I don’t have a romantic interest.

But I do have goals.
I have a crazy specific goal: a woman friend within walking distance. (Part of my be weird, be myself in Austin, was not having a car. Prior girlfriends had all complained about driving to get me. My solution was not to get a car. It was to write a goal: a girlfriend / womanfriend/ deep partner/ significant other—- what do you call it after 50?— within walking distance.)

Other goals were a girlfriend / womanfriend/ deep partner/ significant other who was kind and generous and smart. A non written goal, but something I’d discovered way back: a woman who not only could put up with my authentic/ eccentric nature, but would enjoy that. I never went on dates and never tried to prove myself as anything other than who I was.
And I had a goal of finding a lifetime partner.

And I had a goal of staying in the neighborhood I was in, easily. At a time in the history of burgeoning Austin, when this was getting harder and harder to do.

And I had a goal of a girlfriend/ potential life partner who would be thrilled to be present with me. Without presence, life is a waste. Very few women realize this. I wanted one who did.

And Carol, unknown to me, satisfied all these goals, and more (Sex every day, anyone?).

And I didn’t know I was searching for her.
We just started talking, in the present, in the five minute turns.
We found out more and more that intrigued us about each other.
And then that we liked about each other.
And then that we were really excited about each other. 

And by the end of the night, sharing in equal time our gratitudes and teasing out our goals, and being honest and open, we “almost” knew, we’d found the almost impossible mate we’d “almost” given up looking for.

The goals pointed me, and her, who had her own version of daily goals, toward what we Really Wanted.

It’s obvious, so obvious that if you want a better world, you have to know at least to some extent what that better world might or could be like.
And yet, so very few people do this, at least as a regular practice. They might have goals in work, but then they come home and complain about their boss and their fellow workers.
They don’t write a goal: my boss and I will get along great, and she’ll understand how much I have to offer, and I’ll help her be a much more calm and expansive person.
Or, I’ll get along with Joe, and together we’ll get to be friends and co-workers who will make amazing contributions to the company and will both get huge raises.
And, when I go home, my partner and I will have great communication, and lots of fun with the kids, and joyful and continually expanding sex when it’s time to put the lights out.
And get a great night’s sleep after that.
And wake up invigorated and in love and full of joy and creative juice for the next day.

And why not?
When has worrying and complaining ever helped your life?
When has worrying and complaining ever helped anyone’s life?

Never, right?

So, goals are a way of getting clear what you DO want.
It puts your focus on what you want reality to become.

This is actually a vital subset of parenting.
Any time you tell a child, “Don’t run in the street.” They just hear “the street” and that is where they want to go.
Instead. “Hold my hand and stay on the sidewalk with me” and they can have a picture of what you do want.

I could have complained: “Modern women are too wimpy about always going somewhere in a car, and should be excited to be with a man on a bike.”
Instead the goal: “A great girlfriend/ / / within walking distance.”
I didn’t know it was going to be as little as half a block, but it sure did make moving in with her the most silly and easy move of my life: we just walked most of the stuff down the block, using the trunk of HER car, only a few times.
Now we have OUR car, and that’s fun too.

And GOALS need at least a small ACTION STEP. You need to know that this is more than just a wish. The Universe needs to know this is more than just a wish.
And action helps you get more clear on what the journey is going to be like.
And the journey will keep shifting around.
And you can have goals to have fun following the shifts and being happy and creative and present all along the way.

At the very least, goals give you increasing clarity on what you want: That co-worker with whom you have friendship and creativity and both get great raises, helps really focus away from the negative.
And if you start, which I hope you will, a GOALS JOURNAL, with a date on each page, and a new page for each new day, this helps keep the goals part of your enlightenment pointed to where you want it to go.


And even better, let’s play this Enlightenment Game.

Enlightenment Game #5:
Start a Goals Journal
Turn all complaints and all worries into Goals
On one side write the goal
On the other side, write one ACTION STEP, NO MATTER HOW SMALL

So, you have a complaint: my job sucks.
You write a goal: I find an amazing and wonderful job that makes twice as much money and is three times as much fun and in which I can learn a ton and make lots of really great friends.
You write this on the left hand side of the page. 
On the right hand side of the page write any action steps: 
Make a list of ten jobs that might be great.
Ask three friends what they think I’d be good at.
Make a list of all the places I’ve like most to work.
Take a walk and ask the universe to give me intuitive inspiration in what job I’d really thrive in.

And so on.

You’ll get better and better at goals.
You’ll get better and better at actions steps.

And there’s only one really great time to start:

So, do it:
Get a journal, or a piece of paper while you wait to get another journal (you already have your gratitudes journal, right?), and write three goals.
And three actions steps.

Enlightenment Game #6: Write Goals with the Delight of the Journey as Part of the Goal.

You can go back to the three goals you’ve written and make sure that it’s not just the end result you’ve written.
Make sure you’ve got the way you get there as part of your goal.
Include fun.
Include discovery.
Include surprises that help you.
Include meeting and enjoying great people along the way.
Include that things turn out easier and better than you can every imagine.

You’re asking the Universe for what you want.
Go ahead and REALLY want what you REALLY WANT.

Have fun.

PS: You can write goals anytime you wish to. It’s fun.

Hug Plus Awareness, like anything plus Awareness... Great

Week Two, Day Three: LUST
Concept #10: Add Awareness to Anything
Add awareness to Everything
Add Awareness to Touch

You are reading these words right now.
What if you add on being aware of whether you are breathing in or breathing out?
How does that change what you experience as you read?

And what if you added on awareness/ sensing of your two legs, from hip joint out to the tips of as many toes as you have? (The Gurdjieff meditation. Recall?)
So, you are now reading with an awareness of your legs and your breathing?
Does that give you a more full sense of who you are right now?

And right now, as these words come into your brain, or these words come into your ears, you can be also aware of the YOU at the center of this.
You are breathing.
You are in a body with two legs.
Those legs are in some configuration, and have some connection to gravity.
What happens when you broaden out to that? How do you feel? Is there more of a sense of I AM ALIVE at the center of your reading and listening?

And now, why not? Let’s add the arms from shoulders out to the fingertips.
Sensing both legs
Sensing both arms
Noticing your breathing
As you are reading these words.

And then, add on your spine, so it’s as if you have five lines of your body: the spine in the middle and two arms and two legs coming off to the sides.
And the breathing.
How and who are you now with all this awareness as you read these words?

There is a lot of you.

And that’s today’s game:
We combine touch with awareness, that is the spoken, “Now I am aware…” sort.
Will this make things more sparkly and wonderful?
Find out.

Lust Game #4: Hug and Say, back and forth, “Now I am aware…”
“Now I am aware of the feeling our your arms around my back.”
“Now I am aware of my feet on the floor and our thighs touching.”
“Now I am aware of the feeling of our cheeks touching.”

You can sense how it’s going to go.
So, do it.
Back and forth.
Awareness of being touched.
Awareness of your touching.
Awareness of the merging spots.
Awareness of what you are doing:  “Now I am aware of squeezing and letting go of the back of your neck.”
Awareness of what the other person is doing: “Now I am aware of your moving your hand up and down the back side of my ribs.”

And so on.
Chances are this will make the hug and whole different experience.
Try it and find out.
For how long?

A long time. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Argue No More -- Three Delightful Steps back to Love

Week Two, Day One:  LOVE
Concept #8 : WE DON’T NEED TO ARGUE—
Say Five Times as Many “Good” Things…
 A Three Step Alternative

We love to argue, because we have conditioned minds. What do conditioned minds want most of all?
To be right.
And they are stupid.
So if we feel bad, or shift into reactivity and start feeling bad, our stupid conditioned minds have a stupid conditioned program called: YOUR FAULT.

This always seems true.
This always fucks up our life.

And makes it less fun.
And can lead to feeling like we’re miserable.
And we so-called “KNOW” (ha! An opinion masking as a “fact”) why we are miserable.
Because we believe a ridiculous thought, which is: You are at the cause of my feeling bad.
Which always seems true.
And which is always a lie.
And always makes us weak, because it’s firmly saddled in the victim mode that says: YOU are the cause of my feelings.
Here’s the sad and wonderful truth: we are always always, we are the cause of our feelings.

Later we’ll see that it’s almost entirely our THOUGHTS about whatever the other person did that are “causing” our bad feelings.

And enough theory. It’s up to you to discover how you make yourself unhappy, and then to stop that.
You may be pleasantly delighted to discover that once you stop making yourself unhappy, you are automatically happy. 

(There is more to it, because out of of bodies and in our heads it’s very hard to live a fun and full and creative life…. And for now. Let’s kick the arguing habit into a corner, and have this wonderful three step process to be more alive, and connected and loving.)

LOVE GAME #5: Write two lists of appreciation: for yourself and for “the other”
Five things you love or like or appreciate about yourself.
Five things you love or like or appreciate about the other.

Love Game #6: Write two short lists: ONE thing each, to improve
One thing that you could do “a little better”. I know, I know, you are perfect. And…. there might just be ONE thing you could do a little inny weenie bit better.
One thing (ONE) that your partner/ friend/ child/ friend/ ???/ could do “a little better”.

This is a secret to good relationship. Five nice things to every one not so nice thing.
The brain likes to latch on to the negative. So, we need to start with five times as many nice things.
We need to get in the habit of writing lists of what we love about ourselves.

Love Game #7: Discover the “we goal” behind the two wishes to improve.
For example:  I am too critical, sometimes.
The we goal: We are creating an environment of support and listening and patience and being present and grateful.

Or, another example: You should not withdraw when things go south.
The we goal: We are staying connected no matter what.

This can be any we goal that you want. It need only be something that you are sure that both of you agree and thrive by.

So, this is fun.
And this is a way to look at the half of the problem that is us.
This is a way to look at the “we goals” that are about the love and connection and fun and life richness that is what we really want.