Archive for April 2010

Keep Your Head in the Clouds and Your Feet on the Ground

April 4, 2010

For this week’s audio message, click here.

A few weeks ago while I was on a run, the saying “keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground” popped into my head.  I’m not sure why I thought of this, but once I did I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  And while I’ve heard this saying many times (and actually have always thought it was pretty corny and cheesy), I started to think about it more deeply and realized the true wisdom of this idea.

As I’ve been thinking about it more, I notice that while I often have my “head in clouds” (thinking about big goals, dreams, ideas, and more) and my “feet on the ground” (staying grounded in “reality,” taking practical action, and keeping things “real”), I rarely do these things simultaneously.

I think most of us find ourselves on one end of this spectrum or the other (and some of us, like me, go back and forth depending on what’s going on in our lives or how we’re feeling at any given time).  However, our ability to create an authentic sense of balance with our goals and actions (i.e. dreaming vs. doing), has a lot to do with not only how effective we are in making things happen in life, but also with how much joy and fulfillment we experience.

Here are a few things you can do and think about to balance the yin and yang energies of dreaming and doing in your life:

1) Notice where you are on this spectrum.  Take some time to reflect on where you fall on the “head in the clouds, feet on the ground” continuum.  While many of us move back and forth a bit on this spectrum, most of us have a natural place where we settle – i.e. we’re more of a “dreamer” or a “doer.”  Once we recognize where we are, we have the ability to move and create more of a balanced approach – if we choose to.

2) Allow yourself to focus on your dreams.  What are some of your biggest dreams?  What do you truly want in your life?  Having passionate desire without attachment is one of the most important elements of us making our dreams come true.  However, because most of us have been hurt, disappointed, or let down by goals that haven’t been attained, we tend to hold back when it comes to thinking about, visualizing, and talking about our deepest desires and most important dreams.  Having our “head in the clouds” is about giving ourselves permission to dream and dream big.

3) Take intentional and effective action.  One of the biggest challenges we encounter in our journey towards our dreams is either not taking effective action (because we don’t know what to do or we’re too scared to do it) or taking too much ineffective action (because we’re running around crazy or acting in an unconscious way).  When we allow ourselves to dream big (with our “head in the clouds”), how we keep our “feet on the ground” is by coming up with intentional and appropriate actions to move forward with our goals, even if we’re scared and not sure how things will turn out.  We often need guidance, advice, and support in this process – because it can be confusing, intimidating, or both.

4) Get good support and feedback.  Support and feedback are essential aspects of life, success, and growth – as we all know.  Specifically related to our dreams – it’s crucial that we have empowering support around us.  Some of us need people who can challenge us think big, focus on our goals, and dream.  Others of us need people to help ground us, keep us in reality, and help us focus our energy, passion, and ideas in a practical way.  And, all of us need people who can cheer for us, hold us accountable, and support us on our journey in an authentic and meaningful way.  We can’t do it alone – well, at least not nearly as easily of effectively.

5) Have fun!  It’s important for us to enjoy the journey and not take ourselves or life too seriously.  Sometimes, as you may have noticed, we get really intense, uptight, and stressed out about our goals and dreams – almost as if we’re holding our breath, waiting to exhale once things all turn out.  This creates a stressful dynamic in our lives and is not the most conducive environment (internally and externally) for us to create success and fulfillment.  Having fun along the way ensures we keep things in perspective and enjoy the ride, regardless of the outcome.

Keeping our head in the clouds and our feet on the ground is a lot easier said than done.  However, when we’re able to do both of these things with passion, intention, and focus – we create a sense of balance and peace that can allow us to have what we truly want in life.

How can you balance having your “head in the clouds” and your “feet on the ground” in your own life? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.

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Stop and Hear the Music

April 20, 2010

For this week’s audio message, click here.

Below is a poignant, true story I received from my friend Gary by email a few weeks ago.  While this event took place a few years ago (2007) and you may have read it already, it was the first time I’d been made aware of it and I wanted to share this story with you. It’s an important reminder about the power of our attention – it’s not about the beauty of the music, it’s about our willingness to hear it and appreciate it.

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning.

A man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about forty five minutes. During that time approximately two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After three minutes, a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar; a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A three-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously.  Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth thirty-five million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post a few years ago as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

The questions raised:

  • In a commonplace environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
  • Do we stop to appreciate it?
  • Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…

How many other things are we missing?

If you stop and pay attention right now, where can you find beauty and brilliance that you may not have been noticing? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.

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The Power of Desire Without Attachment

April 13, 2010

For this week’s audio message, click here.

For many years I’ve had mixed feelings about my wants and have been a bit confused about the true power of desire. While I know that desire is an essential piece of the manifestation process, I also know that focusing a lot of my attention and energy on what I want has caused a great deal of fear, pain, and disappointment in my life. Over emphasizing my desire has also gotten in my way of appreciating all that I already have and who I really am at the deepest level. Can you relate?

Last week, I started listening to the audio version of the classic bestselling book Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. While I was listening to the chapter on the importance of desire, I had some big insights and realizations.

I noticed that I often actually hold back, squelch, or minimize my deepest desires – waiting until things seem “possible” or even “probable” before I fully express (both to myself and others) what I truly want. I also realized that my rationalization that “it’s more important to focus on what I have than it is to think about what I want,” has more to do with my own fears that I don’t actually know how to manifest my desire or that I will be upset when things don’t turn out the way I want them to.

Most importantly, I saw that my issue with desire has to do with my attachment to the specific outcome I want, not with desire itself. I don’t have much experience with passionately wanting something (a feeling, experience, material possession, accomplishment, or state of being), without being attached to it manifesting in reality.

Being quite competitive, goal-oriented, and achievement focused for much of my life – I’ve often related to my desires as specific challenges to conquer, goals to attain, or games to win.

What if there’s no scoreboard, it’s not a competition, and it doesn’t really matter if something comes to fruition or not? In other words, what if we could want with deep passion and excitement, and without attachment? It’s not that we wouldn’t want certain things to happen or specific dreams to come true, we just wouldn’t relate to our specific desires as if our life depended on them (which in most cases it doesn’t).

As simple of a concept as this is to understand, at least conceptually, it’s revolutionary when we consider its implications on our life, our growth, our relationships, our work, our dreams, and more. I’ve been talking about, reading about, and teaching people about desire without attachment for many years, but for the first time in my life in the past few days, I’ve actually been inquiring into it and speculating on what it would look like, feel like, and be like for me to live my life from this place of passionate desire and non-attachment, authentically. It’s a whole new world of possibility.

What if we gave ourselves the permission to dream and desire in a big and profound way? What if we knew that whether or not we achieved, experienced, or manifested something that we really, really wanted – we would be okay either way (because we actually would and we have always been). The fact that we currently exist in life without many of the things we desire is evidence that we don’t need many of the specific things we want.

However, the more passionate, bold, clear, and free we become with our desires – knowing them, feeling them, seeing them, and expressing them – the more likely we are to not only manifest them specifically into our lives, but to live with an authentic sense of passion, purpose, and power.

Here are a few things you can think about and do to expand your capacity for passionate desire, without attachment:

– Notice your relationship with desire itself. How do you feel about your desires, dreams, goals, and wants (big or small)? Are you comfortable with having desires and with expressing them? Do your desires excite you? Do they scare you? Are you optimistic about being able to manifest the experiences, feelings, and outcomes you want in your life right now? How have your past experiences with your desires impacted your current relationship to wanting? The more you can get in touch with how you feel about and relate to desire in general and your desires specifically, the more ability you’ll have to expand your capacity for passionate, non-attached wanting.

– Allow yourself to want. Take some time today and this week to inquire about what you really want right now. What are some of your deepest desires at this moment in your life? Notice how easy or difficult it is for you to think about and imagine these desires. Without judgment, see if you can challenge yourself to push past any perceived limitations, judgments, or fears you may have about what you want. The goal is to practice wanting with passion and to let go of your need to know how something will come to fruition or what you think it will mean if it does (or doesn’t) manifest.

– Get support and encouragement from others. Getting in touch with our deepest desires and passionately expressing them is something that for many of us takes courage and support – and can also be quite vulnerable and scary. Reach out to the people you trust most in your life and those who truly have your back. Share with them both your fears and your desires – in a way that will support and empower you to focus on what you want with passion and authenticity. This is not about getting practical help and support to make your goals happen (although that may be something that comes out of this process naturally). Reaching out for support and encouragement from others in this regard is about allowing the love, support, and belief the people in our lives have for us to nurture us and give us the courage to dream and want with intensity and in a way that reminds us that we are not alone and that we’re okay, just as we are (with or without manifesting what we want).

Have fun with this and, as always, be kind, appreciative, and compassionate with yourself in this process. For most of us, this is a big step to take and something we can and will continue to practice and deepen throughout our journey of life and growth. And, as we deepen our ability to want with passion and without attachment, our life can take off in magical ways that we didn’t even think was possible.

How do you relate to your desire? Do you allow yourself to desire with passion or do you hold back, waiting until you think things are “possible?”  How attached do you get to your desire?  How could you alter your relationship to your desire in a way that would empower and support you? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.

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We Are Not Our Bodies

April 7, 2010

For this week’s audio message, click here.

I shaved my head again last week.  This is the fourth time in the past five years I’ve done this.  As has been the case for me before – it feels both liberating and vulnerable.  My hair has been thinning for about ten years (most significantly in the past two or three) and, as I’ve written about a few times previously, this has caused me a great deal of fear, insecurity, and self criticism.

These feelings are not new and aren’t specifically related to my thinning hair (although it is definitely something that triggers them for me in an intense way).  Being critical of my appearance and concerned about my body have been consistent themes throughout my life – as a teenager with acne and braces, as a college and pro baseball player battling years of painful arm injuries, as the natural aging process starts to impact my hair, skin, etc., and so much more – there have been and continue to be aspects of my body that I don’t like, feel ashamed of, and worry about.

The deeper issue here for me and so many of us isn’t about our bodies themselves, but how much we identify with them.  I’ve lived most of my life as if I am my body, even though for a number of years I’ve been aware, at least intellectually, that this is not the case.

We tend to focus a lot of our attention on our bodies, at least superficially.  We think about, talk about, and worry about how our bodies look, feel, and function all the time.  Some of us clearly do this more than others – but if you just pay attention to the conversations, information, media, and advertisements around you on a daily basis, amazing to see how much obsession there is about our bodies and also how much we tend to equate our success, effectiveness, and well being to our physical experience.

While there’s nothing wrong with us wanting to look good and it’s vitally important that we focus on keeping our bodies as healthy as possible, in many cases, we place a disproportionate amount of our self worth and value (or lack thereof) on our bodies.  In other words, we think that if we look good and feel good, we are good. And, we think that if we feel bad, get sick, feel tired, or don’t like our appearance, we somehow are bad (or at least not as good as we could or should be).

We also don’t often make much distinction between our physical state and our other states (mental, emotional, and spiritual).  I remember hearing a story of a Buddhist monk who only slept two or three hours per night, because he was so busy tending to the poor, sick, and needy people in his community.  When people asked him, “Don’t you get tired?” he responded by saying, “My body gets tired sometimes, but I’m alive and vibrant.”  The story really struck me and illustrated the important distinction between us and our physical body.

Our bodies are brilliant, beautiful, and miraculous – even though we often don’t think of, treat, or talk about them that way.  As my friend, Steve Sisgold, teaches in his wonderful book, What’s Your Body Telling You?, we can tap into the power of “whole body consciousness” and use the innate wisdom of our bodies to reduce stress, create peace, and attract success in our lives.

I’m not advocating that we disconnect from our bodies (which is so easy for us to do in our culture as we over emphasize the mental aspect of life and focus more on results than we do on experience), but I am suggesting that we disassociate ourselves from the notion that who we are is simply the flesh and bones we travel around in.  Our bodies are an important aspect of who we are, but far from all of who we are.

Our body weight does not determine our worth.  Our level of health (or lack thereof) is not an indication of our value as a human being.  How much hair we have (or whatever other physical issue you obsess about) doesn’t make us a good or bad person.  And, how we look and feel is not the ultimate indicator of our success, fulfillment, and worthiness in life.

We are so much more than our bodies!  When we’re able to realize, remember, and live from this awareness – we can take back our power, transform some of our fear, and create a healthy, loving, and empowering relationship with our body that serves, supports, and enhances our growth and our experience ourselves and of life in general.

How much do you identify yourself with your body? How can you alter your relationship with your body in a healthy and positive way?  Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.

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