F*#! You, Strong Letter Follows

November 24, 2011

It is rarely a good sign when an expletive springs to mind when reading an e-mail from a dear friend. Fortunately I have been working on what James Hollis calls complexes long enough to know that this energetic reaction is not about the current situation but rather a past experience creating a trigger point. Hollis refers to complexes as charged clusters of history and my friend had activated one of my energy clusters; fortunately I recognized it immediately and began the work to calm and understand my own reaction.

I had been planning a treat for her birthday that involved dinner and a ride on the Stanley Park Christmas train. We were as excited as two kids going to see Santa as neither of us had done it before. She had one request that we were flexible about dates as she did not want to go in the perpetual rain, a feature of Vancouver winters. We compared calendars and chose a few dates that would work and I promised to keep an eye on the weather forecast. Fortunately I could buy tickets on the day if I went down to Stanley Park at noon. The first date was December 2nd so yesterday I checked the long term forecast and eureka! they were forecasting a clear cool few days. Eagerly I dashed off an e-mail to give her the good news.

The response was not quite what I expected. “I goofed up!  I’m so sorry. Another friend was looking for a time to celebrate my birthday and I tried a few times that didn’t work for her and forgot that Dec. 2 was one of the times I suggested for the train and I booked dinner with her.” The first response was energetic, my body seemed to flush with heat, always a sure sign a complex has been triggered. Then I noticed my reaction was a desire to cancel the whole thing. Fortunately I knew immediately that an old wound had been triggered so rather than respond I began my own inquiry into my hurt feelings. I recognized one part of this experience was related to the child who felt he was the second choice, the one who got excluded, then I tapped into a reason why this felt so significant. I had put myself out trying to make something nice happen for someone else and felt let down. I spent some time staying with the feelings of hurt, acknowledging the child’s woundedness and consoling that part of myself. I like to give the child an imagined hug because from the child’s point of view the desire to strike back is often all we can think of when we feel disempowered. As the adult I can finds a different way. I asked the child was there something unresolved. the question came back, “why did she tell you she had goofed rather than the other person when she had made the arrangement with you first?” The adult witness was unable to answer the question so I wondered whether I needed to have this discussion with my friend.

I drew a rune for guidance and got Protection. I use Ralph Blum’s insightful interpretations and this one was right on the mark. “Control of the emotions is at issue here….Algiz serves as the mirror for the Spiritual Warrior, the one whose battle is always with the self…. Remain mindful that timely right action and correct conduct are your only true protection. if you find yourself feeling pain, observe the pain and stay with it. Do not try and pull down the veil and escape from life by denying what is happening. You will progress; knowing that fact is your protection.

It seemed so perfect. I know my friend will appreciate a dialogue around my inner child’s reaction. I suspect that much of my life I did “pull down the veil” and as a result developed this cluster of history. I think I also became extremely selfish in part as a protection from getting hurt. Bringing our old wounds into the light and acknowledging them, helps heal them and free up our life energy. As my teacher Atum O’Kane once said, it is not that we lose the wounds but the ability for them to hurt diminishes. The energy of the cluster begins to discharge.

It All Started With Meditation…

November 9, 2011

Recently I developed a presentation focused on accessing intuition. Of course anyone who has worked with the DecisionClarity process knows it is designed with a similar objective but recently I was faced with the opportunity to create a simplified interpretation that could have broader application. I realized it starts with a belief that you can be intuitive then there are fundamentally still four steps:

1) Set an intention

2) Getting the mind out of the way.

3) Let go of attachment to an outcome.

5) Paying attention.

Of course wanting to get the thoughts out of the way is much easier said than done. Some people are naturally intuitive and recognize an insight when it comes but most of us have little practice or experience. To stop thinking requires discipline and the best way to explore this is through meditation. Some people react negatively to the idea of meditation associating it with some weird religious rites. In fact in its purest form meditation is simply the art of concentration and focusing the mind. We can do that by simply paying attention to the breath or alternatively by focusing the mind on some simple words. They can be anything that works for you e.g. “I know what to do and I do it.” In my experience setting an intention and starting to meditate will encourage the intuitive senses to emerge. Then we need attention to pick up the signs, clues, serendipity and synchronicity that is the way that our intuition often shows up.

Meditation is a bit like a wonder drug except it is free with no side effects. Proven benefits include reducing stress, stimulating the immune system, increasing blood flow, regulating the heart beat, improving mood, activating the intuitive faculties, strengthening neural pathways, improving compassion and empathy. In the space of the past four weeks I had an e-mail from Dr. Andrew Weil summarizing the seven benefits of meditation that he is aware of then encountered a wonderful book by Rick Hansen titled, “ Buddha’s Brain – the practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom which listed a dozen more. It is easy to convince yourself of the power of meditation if you take the trouble to review the data but most of us don’t.

Why not? I think there is a great deal of resistance to the idea by the ego. It involves surrender and letting go and the ego does not trust anyone to run your life but itself. I think the ego’s fear is well founded because there are side effects of meditation. Besides all the benefits that I have listed above you run the risk that your life will change. You may stop seeing the world as black and white, you may find yourself relating to a greater whole of which you are part, and in my case meditation was the start of a journey that changed everything. If you had told the atheist executive vice president of an advertising agency twenty years ago he would be a spiritual coach, conduct dream workshops, write a book on decision-making and work as a teacher at Inspire4 Health, he may well have laughed at the idea but then he started to meditate…..

Inspiration In Sedona

November 9, 2011

Vista from Bell Rock

I love deserts! There is something about the big skies, the intense sunshine, the dramatic geography and stark contrasts that call to me. On my recent trip through California I encountered a variety of different desert experiences. The high desert around Mammoth Lakes adorned by sagebrush and the spectacular snow crested peaks of the Sierra Nevada always invigorate me. Death Valley is so much more than a single desert experience. From a vast expanse of sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells to the deeply corroded yellow badlands around Zabriskie Point, it is ever changing, at times a lunar landscape, and then the verdant oasis around Furnace Creek. The desert just needs water to break into life. I think one of the reasons it resonates with me is that is offers such a wonderful metaphor for a landscape of the soul. At times we feel isolated, arid, abandoned, thirsty and barren but there is always the promise of light and water creating an outpouring of life.

My favourite desert is the red rock desert around Sedona in Arizona. The result of ancient ocean floors being raised then corroded into amazing contrasting shapes, it is high enough to have significant vegetation in the form of pine trees and flowering meadows amidst the cacti and prickly pear. (Do not get too close to one of these suckers, I found by cruel experience it can bury a myriad tiny needles into your flesh.)

I love to meditate and contemplate while engaging in some arduous hiking and biking around Sedona. I feel relaxed, engaged and open to guidance. On my most recent trip I have been contemplating James Hollis words about living my largest life. I love my life with the depth of meaning I achieve through my spiritual coaching, my dream workshops, my DecisionClarity work and my involvement at Inspire Health yet I have been asking whether there is more I can do. On this particular day I had cycled to a beautiful landmark called Bell Rock where I climbed a little way and sat admiring the vast vista laid out in front of me. I sat and contemplated then put the intention out to the cosmos, “If there is something you want me to do, let me know”. I sat admiring the beauty and allowing the attention to set then began the clamber down. I noticed a rather irritating thought that seemed to be about adapting my DecisionClarity philosophy to a focus on accessing intuition in a way that would appeal more to the business arena. This seemed to make no sense at all, it would take the soul out of what I did and soul was where I wanted to focus. All I could see were challenges around bridging between two dissimilar worlds, I was a spiritual coach and  I recall the very word causing uncomfortable ripples with some people; I would watch their eyes glass over when I shared my vocation and they would seek desperately for escape. Anyway I was approaching 67 and I did not want to go back into that world. However I could not help but notice that the annoying idea had popped into my head just as I had put out an inquiry so I qualified my negative response by thinking, ‘I am considering this a random thought that has no meaning and if I am to change my mind, I will need a really clear neon sign!”

As I drove the 2600 kms home to Vancouver, the memory dissipated and I had basically forgotten the episode until the day after I got home when I received an e-mail, “We’re having a 1-month reunion for people who took our program in September and I thought it might be good for them to hear a little about your own journey and your intuitive decision-making model….” This startled me; it was from someone I had met recently who works in an organization that supports participants in making new career choices. It seemed rather an overt sign. In addition that evening I was working with a client and he began to share some insights he had received from a book by Wayne Dyer called “Excuses Begone!” and somewhat shamefacedly I recognized some of the inner arguments I had faced when leaving Bell Rock. I had clearly been in resistance!

The next day I began to explore and develop an adapted presentation. To my surprise I felt inspired and motivated and soon the outline fell smoothly into place. I recognized that the key to maintain the integrity of my model was to maintain a focus on meditation. I realized that meditation is not necessarily a spiritual practice. It could simply be positioned as a process to concentrate and focus awareness and help to access our intuitive faculties. It is the power of our thoughts and feelings that block intuitive wisdom, the key is to find a way around this barrier. The essential steps involved setting intention, paying attention and meditation. Simple, effective and inspired in the desert.

The Soul’s Journey – Control and Humiliation

November 7, 2011

I am sitting awash with shame, irritation, frustration and embarrassment at my behaviour on the phone. It was a call from the security company who monitor my house that triggered it. “Hi I am just calling to tell you that I can’t process your credit card for this year’s payment.” “Oh I thought I had told you. I don’t want to renew with you this year.” “The terms of our service require you to give us one month’s notice in writing.” “ I don’t remember agreeing to that, as far as I am concerned we have a year to year contract that is renewed each year.” “ It’s in the contract” “Well that is probably some small print I never noticed. You can’t do that and I’m not paying. Sue me.”

Just when I thought I had said goodbye to Charlie Control, he injects himself into my life again. (https://ta44.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/i-don’t-think-the-chocolate-helped…/) This time it is even worse, there is no buffer between me and the caller, I have treated someone who was only doing their job discourteously and inappropriately. I feel pissed off with the universe and myself as well. How often did I have to learn this lesson, and why couldn’t I get it right. I had been working with seeing the gap and identifying complexes for what seemed like an eternity and here I am back down the hole again! I head downstairs and draw a rune, “reverse initiation” I don’t bother to read it, it will be all too familiar and somewhat tedious, probably something about self-improvement. I head out for a long walk planning to clear my head for the two client sessions ahead of me in the evening, and hoping I can do a better job with them than with myself.

The next morning I began to work with the experience. I noticed some interesting energy when she first told me why she was calling. She had called before and I had done nothing about the call. I had felt caught out. Then to my horror I realized I had also told a lie. I had known full well I had never contacted them. Then as though I was compensating for being in the wrong, I got more aggressive and controlling. As I explored my feelings I observed how childlike my reaction had been. I got caught out, told a lie then got mad. I tried to reflect on previous times when I had felt this way but nothing came.

I picked up the rune reading and smile in amazement. It talks about not binding myself to past achievements and recognizing the situation as a series of challenges specific to the situation you are undergoing.  The final few lines resonate deeply: Then each setback, each humiliation becomes a test of character. When your inner being is shifting and reforming on a deep level, patience, constancy and perseverance are called for. So stay centered, see the humour and keep your faith firm.

It’s as though Ralph Blum had written those words for me. I feel lighter and wonder what the right thing to do may be. I decide to write a card to the person I accosted on the phone apologizing, asking her to forgive me, also giving written notice while agreeing to pay if they show me the agreement and send an invoice. I was going to mail the letter but I live near their office although I have to cross a busy street to get there. I decided that if the universe clears the traffic I will deliver it by hand otherwise drop it in the mail. It is almost magical the way the traffic evaporates like the parting of the Red Sea so I cross the road, make the delivery and feel I am complete.

Unfortunately although my personality may feel it is concluded, something deeper within me has other ideas. The consequence is that I slip into a mindless state during the evening and the next morning – the on-line casino, an extra chocolate allowance and finally a comfort movie – Lord of the Rings that I have watched numerous times and still love. It was not until past one the next day when I dragged myself out for a walk that I began to wake up. “Just what is going on?” I asked myself. And somehow the stunning scenery of fresh snow on the mountains and the fall colour whispered an answer. “You are not complete yet.” The dominos fell into place. Of course the mindlessness is always a sign of resistance to moving forwards; I feel aggravated that I am slow to catch on then recall Ralph Blum’s wise words, each humiliation becomes a test of character. I begin to reflect and realize that although I have defined the complex, “I get caught out, tell a lie then get mad”, I have not explored it. I surrender to the embarrassment and then attempt to recall previous occasions when this complex has been triggered. I can’t think of any, maybe I have blocked them all out. Then a memory of a similar embarrassment, I used to own a property near Whistler. It had a lot of rocks on it that I was pushing over a bank not realizing that they were gathering momentum and creating havoc below me. Suddenly there was a roar of a neighbour’s complaint. I concealed myself and later lied about it but I did not get mad. I guess because I got away with it. Nothing more came. I asked myself that if I had developed this abysmal coping mechanism as a result of some traumatic experience, what could it have been? Then a somewhat unpleasant memory interjected itself into my consciousness.

I grew up under a very authoritarian father, fundamentalist Christian and basically if you lived in his house, you followed his rules. As a teenager I ran a gauntlet between behaving like a chameleon to blend in and affecting the stance of a rebellious teenager. As I grew up my lack of observance of his petty dictatorial rules was not confronted as I avoided making my behaviour too obvious however it all came to a head one Sunday evening. My father had a very traditional attitude to Sunday– no work, no play, no fun. (As a child I had to go to church three times a Sunday.) At seventeen years old I surreptitiously ignored this but this particular Sunday after a visit to the movies he was waiting to accost me. “Where have you been?” he demanded. Rather than make up a lie I told him I had been to the cinema. His fury was unrestrained and the next thing I was lying on the kitchen floor, victim of a left hook worthy of Joe Frazier.

As I strolled I wondered why this memory had popped into my mind and what its association was to my recent behaviour. I hadn’t told a lie and I had not been reactive. Then a piece of the puzzle fell into place. Perhaps this had been the moment that my unconscious decided to develop a new coping mechanism. If telling the truth and being passive had me dumped unceremoniously on the kitchen floor, perhaps it was start of being more deceitful and aggressive. I can remember that I did feel caught out when he asked me where I had been because I knew he would not like it. Was this fifty-year-old memory the clue I was looking for?