Friday, September 14, 2007

Finding the Center

There is a place of peacefulness inside - where you feel the most yourself, at one with the world, most alive in your being, most open to your self, others, and the world, a place of ultimate well-being. This is your center.

Being in this place, being centered, comes with a sensation. If you find yourself there from time to time, notice how it feels in your body, emotions, and mind. Cultivating an awareness of this center creates an associated memory to help you know when you are off or on center. It's like finding a familiar hill in a landscape, being able to know when you are "there" or
how far you've traveled from it. Spending a significant amount of time in this center, often accomplished by meditative practices and retreats, can build a strong desire to come back to this place, to come home when you feel lost or thrown off, which can be a powerful way to remain peaceful while facing life's challenges.

For those who are not familiar with the feeling of being centered, begin not by being still, which may be difficult, but begin by observing what happens. Just begin to notice the details - the exact shade of the sky in a given moment, what your loved one said this morning before you left, the shapes of a candle flame as it burns - begin to watch life closely and notice what you may see.

Where are you in relation to your center now?

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Art of Not Accomplishing

In witnessing myself and other people in coaching over time, I've come to see the similarities in how people become more relaxed by not "doing" in their lives and learning to experience their lives instead. Like Tim Gallwey's books on the Inner Game, learning happens easily when people observe themselves, obtain feedback, and use it to naturally accomplish something without trying.

One of the most challenging aspects of coaching is to undo the tenacious hold that people have on themselves to instruct, direct, and guide themselves into better behavior. Not only is this often frustrating and ineffective, it can also create a sense of struggle, inadequacy and dissatisfaction. To believe and trust in one's natural ability to learn without trying is a graceful way to move through life. There is a natural movement towards skillfulness and wellness inside each of us.

What are you trying hard to do today that could be "not done"?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

To learn to die and grieve

A concept in Buddhism and other religions is to "learn to die before you die," meaning to accept the temporariness of your life, after which you learn to live without fear of death and loss. If you have already come to terms with the finite nature of your life, then the rest is to simply live it well. The illusion that one's life will go on endlessly often creates an inertia against doing the things that are the most important now.

In a related sense, it is also possible to grieve what you love before you lose it, after which you learn to live without fear of loss. The idea that something valuable will cease one day causes endless torment, grief, and suffering: "How long will I be with the person I love?", "When will my children outgrow me?", "Will I lose my house? [or job, car, etc.]".

The best balm to attachment, whether to one's life or the things or people in one's life, is to imagine that they have already ended, to grieve and accept their loss in advance, and to live as if they have already passed. The reality is that they will all end one day, at the latest upon one's own death. With this mindset, there is a freedom to appreciate, to love, and to experience the passing of things with a sense of peace, along with gratitude that they are still present for today.

What do you have in your life that you can practice as if they had ended?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Intersection of Love, Sex, Intimacy and Commitment

Tonight I had a revealing conversation with a male friend after dinner. We were talking about nontraditional relationships, such as cuddle buddies and lovers. At one point, we realized that what we have in common in our lives is an interest in undoing the links between love, sex, intimacy and commitment that men and women are conditioned to believe in this society. Not to become hedonistic or immoral, but as a way to expand the understanding of what is healthy.

Stereotypically, men are conditioned to want sex, whether or not it is attached to love, but also as the only path towards intimacy if there is one. Commitment may come as a by-product of love or sex. Women are conditioned to link all of the above - sex, love, intimacy and commitment.

A growth experience for men may be to practice intimacy without sex, to learn how to turn down sex under the right circumstances, or to practice commitment as a primary motivator in a relationship. For women, it might be to practice knowing how sex and love are not the same thing, to practice not making commitments under the right circumstances, and to learn how sex can be a primary motivator in a relationship.

Learning how to expand beyond the boundaries of what we are supposed to do, into the grey zone of what is healthy and possible, expands our ability to determine the right thing to do in any situation.

In what ways have you been affected by your beliefs about how sex, love, intimacy and commitment are related?