Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Breakfast of Champions: Feedback

Although you may have grown up with the description of a popular cereal, I'm using this phrase in another way. Here, I'm talking about a requirement for all physical experience, a key to effective learning, and an essential ingredient for making the changes you desire in your life.

This core nutrient is feedback.

In the dictionary, feedback refers to a response that is "intended to provide useful information for future decisions and development."

As you encounter the world, the ongoing information you receive from other people and the environment gives you feedback on the impact of your presence, words, and actions. Sometimes you are aware of this feedback, while most often you are not.

In any case, you tend to perceive and interpret feedback with respect to your own history and memories, which frequently leads to the maintenance of your comfort zone, and the persistence of your ego or "little mind" consciousness. As a result, the interpreted feedback will support you to react in habitual ways.

Imagine this common scenario.

You have a difficult relationship with your sister. Whenever you speak with her, the conversation eventually becomes tense, someone might yell, and you exchange unpleasant words. Both of you end the interaction feeling frustrated and sad. The result seems inevitable and you can't figure out any way to change what happens.

In this example, the nature of feedback has been transformed from "useful information" to a rigid perception of your sister (and she of you) that limits the possibility of ever having a different outcome. Both of you have become attached to expect a "problem" when you experience the other.

How can feedback be used to produce a non-habitual, healthy response in this kind of situation?

To explore some possibilities, consider these suggestions:
  • Remember that you can only change yourself. The other person might not want to do anything and may assume a disinterested, indignant position with respect to you.
  • Begin to see your living as experiments in which you're simply collecting experiences without judgment. There's no positive or negative feedback--it's all just a set of responses.
  • Stay open and receptive. Since life means constant change in you, others, and conditions, you really don't know what will happen with your experiments from one time or place to another.
  • Let go of memories. Learn from your experiences, and release the past, which doesn't exist anyway.
  • Be in the present moment. Feel your body sensations, and use feedback to guide you to make healthy, loving (yourself and others) choices.
As you practice with experimentation and non-judgmental feedback, your habitual reactions will diminish, and you will create powerful, life-changing results even with difficult situations and relationships.

By viewing your life experience as ever-expanding experiments, all feedback will help you move in directions that reveal your true nature. In this skillful way, feedback is essential for you to see yourself as you are, and becomes a constant source for freedom.

Engage feedback for inspired living!

Love and Peace,

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Aspire to Be Inspired!

This winter has been especially challenging and harsh for vast numbers of people throughout the country and abroad. As a result of these severe, unprecedented environmental stressors, your home and your health may have been significantly threatened.

In the midst of the constant barrage of storms and their aftermath, you probably felt that you were struggling to "keep up" or merely survive.

As the snow and ice disappear, the severe winter weather seems to fade into an unpleasant memory. You may even be surprised at how quickly you can be absorbed by the promising signs of milder days ahead.

These typical responses to the weather provoke this question:

How can I enjoy myself amidst all the conditions of my life?

To experience a helpful response to this question, you might experiment with the following exercise:
  • Pause.
  • Let yourself relax as you bring your attention to your body.
  • Focus on feeling your breath.
  • Witness whatever you experience in your bodymind without judgments.
  • Allow yourself to be at ease.
  • Imagine and feel any of the conditions of your life.
  • Continue to relax, feel your breath, and witness these conditions, while you feel at ease.
Without any effort, as the feeling of ease deepens, you will experience stillness. You are enjoying yourself without regard to your current, past, or future conditions.

In this timeless space, you can reconnect with your essential Being of Peace, Love, and Joy.

Your feelings of struggle and survival melt away, memories become less powerful, inspiration flows more consistently, and your actions express your expanding freedom. In this way, you experience unconditional living.

As you practice the art of unconditional living, you will release your resistance and develop gratitude for the ever-fluctuating pleasant and unpleasant conditions of life.

You will strengthen your ability to love it all!

May this Thai proverb support your daily practice:

"Life is so short. We must move very slowly."

Love and Peace,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Untangling Your Knots

As I was putting away the Christmas ornaments today, I came to one that almost sabotaged my peace of mind and joyful efforts.

It all began with a strand of painted figs that were joined together with translucent nylon string. In removing this decoration from the tree, I was very careful to keep the figs away from each other. However, when I started to wrap it around some tissue, the string got invisibly hooked on one of the figs. I tried to undo the obstacle with no success.

In fact, things only got worse, and soon the whole strand became an incredibly knotted mess!

What followed was a great test of my patience and desire to efficiently dismantle and store the adornments of the tree.

At first, I made pretty continual progress at deliberately separating the figs and connecting lines. I started to feel optimistic about my mission and the end seemed in sight. Unfortunately, something happened, and the tangle quickly appeared worse than expected.

After quite a while on the task, my energy started to drop and I began to contemplate other options. I imagined putting the tangled strand away in the box as it was. I even thought about discarding the "tired old thing."

With my increasing level of frustration and weariness, I knew I couldn't continue. More of this action would only make things worse.

I paused.

I was clear about what I did not want. So I asked myself what I did want. My internally inspired response came quickly. I wanted to return the strand to the box untangled and in good shape for the next use.

In order to accomplish this desired outcome, I realized I needed to shift my physical position, relax and breathe, and start all over at one end of the strand with slow, calming, steady movements.

As you might expect, within a fraction of the time I had already expended, I released my knots, the physical entanglements, as well as my "not"s in less tangible forms (e.g., "I'm not able to clear this up," "I do not like this ornament," "I'm not very patient," and so on).

The strand was tangle-free and so was I.

In my view, this seemingly insignificant scenario provokes several reminders that are important for all personal transformation efforts:
  • Mental states such as anxiety, worry, doubt, anger, and fear appear "real" and establish knots/"not"s that limit you.
  • Most obstacles are not permanent barriers to what you want. To overcome or transform these barriers, you usually need to tap into your resourcefulness and creativity.
  • When you or your situations get confused and tangled, a "pause" becomes a vital tool for determining what's happening and what you want to do about it.
  • Physical movement, relaxation, and diaphragmatic breathing change your state and can enhance your openness to new possibilities.
  • Patience and self-love help you create desired outcomes and enjoy your actions independently from actual results.
Consider any other implications of my experience for your own journey.
  • How do entanglements show up in your life?
  • How do you want to handle them in the future?
As you practice developing conscious responses:

May you untangle all your knots and "not"s with clarity, ease, and joy!

Love and Peace,