Sunday, July 18, 2010

What's Your Pleasure?

The other day in Home Depot's paint department, I overheard two staff members excitedly talking about the fun and thrill of roller coasters. In the midst of helping a customer, they colorfully and enthusiastically described their best experiences with extreme rides according to the degree of vertical drop and sheer terrifying power.

At one point, they interrupted themselves momentarily to eagerly ask their customer if she liked roller coasters.

When she responded, "They're OK," the men's disappointment in not enlisting a fellow playmate was clearly revealed on their faces. Then they went on with their conversation.

As I walked away, I reflected on the genuineness of the men's pleasure, and the incredible variation in the definition people have for "fun."

Whether you like roller coasters or not, when was the last time you did something "just for fun," or for the simple pleasure of the experience?

In this question, I'm not talking about activities that are life threatening or involve habitual attachment (e.g., addiction), aversion (e.g., avoiding responsibility), and ignoring (e.g., numbing out).

Instead, I'm referring to pleasure that derives from joyful, fun, sexy, uplifting, and life-affirming experiences. Furthermore, such forms of pleasure have been shown to increase your body's production of natural, health-enhancing substances (e.g., nitric oxide, serotonin, dopamine, beta endorphin) that relax your muscles and decrease the harmful effects of elevated stress hormones.

Your physiology supports the healthy fulfillment of your desires.

Here are some safe, healthy, and effective ways to deliberately experience pleasure:
Exercise, meditation, gardening, hobbies, theater, visual arts, reading, sports, cooking, writing, sharing a meal, singing, home improvement, doodling, playing cards, scrap booking, receiving a massage, fixing things, daydreaming, getting together with friends, catch-and-release fishing, watching movies, traveling, learning something, going to a spa, enjoying a sunset, and many more possibilities.

As well-respected author and women's health advocate Christiane Northrup, MD states about her foremost recommendation for this list, "Orgasm is the physical metaphor for how pleasure works in the body and in life."

A critical ingredient of all these and other pleasurable activities is to surrender to your experience. You feel your passion and let yourself fully engage in your body's response.

Remember, ease, pleasure, and joy are expressions of your natural, authentic essence!

Start with these questions to develop your own list of simple pleasures:
  • Which of your current activities help you fulfill your desires and feel joyful, sexy, and uplifted? Be sure to include relevant thoughts, feelings, people, places, events, and so on.
  • What new pleasurable activities and experiences would you like to explore, learn, or add to your list?
Use the process of writing your list to practice feeling pleasure. Recognize and let go of objections to your desires. You no longer have to sacrifice yourself at the altar of other people's comfort. Have fun, laugh, and be creative!

By practicing the activities on your list every day, you will be giving your entire bodymind a very important message about self-love and acceptance. As you will experience, this communication of unconditional allowance powerfully affects your cells, and is at the heart of your vibrant health.

Open yourself to extraordinary living with pleasure!

Love and Peace,

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Disarming Doubt

"To feel unconvinced or uncertain about something, or think something is unlikely."

In these words, the dictionary describes one of the biggest obstacles in life, especially when this suspicion, hesitation, skepticism, or distrust pertains to you.

In that situation, you experience self-doubt.

A characteristic challenge of self-doubt concerns your past history and your memories. An unsuccessful business venture, an unhappy relationship, or an ineffective communication can all lead to expectations that your future is uncertain. With that expectancy, you will hesitate in taking action, and feel suspicious of your ability.

Within this description of your possible unpleasant future you can discover some critical keys to releasing your doubt.

First, you may notice the tendency for your self-doubt to appear amorphous, huge, impenetrable, and fearsome. This paralyzing mirage allows your "little mind" (identity) to keep you right where you are. As a result, you won't try anything new, and you won't threaten your familiar ways.

The antidote requires that you recognize the actual nature of this illusion, as you fearlessly dive into the doubt with the question:
  • What is your specific self-doubt?
Some examples:
  • I doubt that I can succeed in this line of work.
  • I doubt that I can have a happy, mutual relationship.
  • I doubt that I can give an engaging presentation.
Another key involves your underlying beliefs. Consider this question:
  • What would you have to believe about yourself for this doubt to be "true" or effective?
Here are some typical beliefs related to the previous examples:
  • I'm not smart enough for this job.
  • I'm not very good in relationships.
  • I don't have the charisma to give a strong speech.
The third key suggests that you take a new view of your past experience, your current doubt, and the related belief. From this perspective, you need to allow for these truths:
  • In the past, you were doing the best you could at the time. You always do the best you are able to do.
  • The past is gone and doesn't exist, except through memories.
  • Since you can recreate the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and experiences of these memories, you can also release your attachment to them. Your memories will not be forgotten, just detached from the present. You have a choice.
  • As you let go of these memories, you forgive yourself.
Pause. Let those truths resonate within your entire bodymind.

With forgiveness and acceptance of yourself, you can drop expectations rooted in the past, and set the stage to freely create opportunities in the present. In that letting go, you can engage the final key with these questions:
  • What skills or competencies do you already have to overcome the beliefs related to your self-doubt?
  • What skills or competencies do you need (want) to overcome your limiting beliefs?
These competencies relate to the limiting belief examples:
  • I'll ask my boss about on-the-job training options.
  • I'll seek counseling to improve my relationship-building skills.
  • I'll take a course on effective public speaking and communication.
When you use these four keys, you initiate a personal revolution. The "naming" of your self-doubt reduces ambiguity and reveals doubt's illusory character. Then, you clarify beliefs that hold the doubt in place, acknowledge their past history, and let go of the associated memories.

Now, self-doubt and suspicion no longer command you.

This transformational process allows you to lovingly step into an open path to discover new possibilities.

Move with conviction!

Love and Peace,

PS If you have any questions about this practice, please feel free to contact me at

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Declare Your Independence!

An unjustly convicted man is released after many years of imprisonment. Despite his best efforts, he experiences considerable difficulty making the adjustment to his newfound freedom. His frustration eventually escalates, and he decides to rob a local bank to return to prison.

At the peak of his dismay, just as he is about to carry out the heist, his friend, a US Marshal, interrupts him. She strongly urges him to reconsider the consequences of his intended course of action. Finally, she convinces him to walk away from the potential crime scene when she delivers her wake-up call:

"You're strong enough to survive and scared to live."

Although these scenes derive from a popular television drama, they suggest some important implications for everyday living.

Imagine these experiences:
You're constantly rushing, taking care of relentless responsibilities, and giving to others non-stop. You're making productive use of every minute, snacking along the way, worrying about your health, absentmindedly multitasking, and pushing yourself despite the pains.

In the midst of all these activities, you might feel a sense of pride about your driven accomplishments and your strength to get through the day.

This common lifestyle pattern represents what I call "survival mode."

With repetition, this way of moving through life becomes chronic or habitual. Over time, your reinforced familiarity with the habit can lull you into an unhealthy "comfort zone" in which you forget that the quality of life is a choice.

That's "survival prison."

In this prison of your own making, you will tend to unconsciously think, feel, and act according to your usual routine. As your prison becomes what you know, you may firmly believe that creative change is impossible.

What can you do to escape from prison?

The first step to freedom involves consciously identifying the characteristics of your prison. Remember, you are responsible (not to blame) for the establishment of your personal prison.

In that light, consider these questions:
  • In what ways do you feel imprisoned or stuck in your life?
  • Which routines have become your unhealthy comforts?
  • Which of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and actions "bind" or lock you into prison-like habits?
After you have clarified the nature of your "prison," give yourself some quiet space and reflect on these questions:
  • What do you need to feel safe as you let go of the prison routine?
  • What new actions do you want to enhance your quality of living?
  • What beliefs, thoughts, and feelings will support your freedom?
Let yourself dream big! Have fun, listen to yourself, and be patient. The prison routine took a while to develop, and you don't need to push yourself to change over night. That's not likely or desirable.

To experience authentic, sustainable freedom, you will need to engage the supports you've listed, as well as deliberately practice the skills of self-awareness and self-acceptance in your actions.

In this way, you will break the grip of the fear of living, declare your independence, and express the embodiment of being free.

Awaken your freedom!

Love and Peace,