Evolution

How are your evolving?

Evolution not revolution

I am a member of a generation that wanted to rebel against the establishment and then we became the establishment.  The Beatles got it and sang about us being a group that did not want to really rebel, when they sang “Revolution” in the watershed year of 1968.  For those of you too young to remember 1968, it started with the Tet offensive, which was followed by Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to run for president, the assassination of Martin Luther King in April, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in June, the riots in Chicago during the Democratic national convention, in November Richard Nixon was elected President of the US as the “Peace” candidate, and the year ended with three US astronauts orbiting the moon, reading from the Gospel of John on Christmas.

As a generation, we declared that we (males) were like Peter Pan and would never grow up and would never sell out to the establishment.   As the draft ended and we had families, we realized that we had sold out.  Now, as we “retire” from the establishment jobs and roles that we enjoyed, we have an opportunity for reflection.  As they enter this phase of life, I suspect many boomers wake up and realize that whether they planned for it or not, they are for all intents and purposes retired from the establishment.  For me it has been in the fall of my sixty-sixth year.

I was reading a blog last week from Harvard business review.  It was a post from an executive coach talking about his work with executives who are planning for a new retirement.  This is the area of practice that I created my coaching practice around when I was a young whipper snapper of sixty-two.  Then, I looked at it as a business.  Today it is a “retirement” business which is more like a practice.  I have to run it as a business, but it is not conducted by the same rules.  There are different driving forces at play.

Frankly, looking at the lyrics to the aforementioned song – I now find I finally have “the plan” and it is all about evolution.  To evolve you must give some stuff up and you must add other stuff in.  The challenge is to determine what you want to add in and what you want to take out – how are you evolving?

What are you evolving from?

Life Coaching in Pittsburgh helping others find their path to evolutionary masculine behaviorFor me, “The plan” is all about giving back.  Helping people figure out their stuff.  It defies positioning from a marketing perspective.  And it defies being run as a business.  I think some examples of the things that I have decided not to do are in order.

I am not much longer going to continue with casual business networking, despite it providing me most of my clients for the last four years.  I am no longer engaged in it the way that others are.  I have evolved to the point where I can see that I have a core group of referral partners that I know, like, and trust.  They remain a core part of my support mechanism.

I am no longer actively seeking clients who are young people wanting to grow long-term, sustainable businesses.  I love the ones that I am still working with and I might work with a few more, but it is not going to be my core focus.  To be true to myself, I need to focus on the evolving needs of today’s boomers as they hit “retirement”.  The 65 of our youth is now more like 85.  When we were born at the middle of the last century, conventional wisdom was that at about 65 people were close to death.  Today that is much more like 85.

I am not going to see clients in my home office, especially since I am selling it to move to a more maintenance-free home.  I will see them in a shared office facility, in coffee shops, their offices, restaurants, or, during the summer, in parks or along walking trails.  Steve Jobs used to have walking meetings.  I will also use Skype and FaceTime.

I am also changing my focus.  I want to work with men in their fifties and sixties who want to design a life in which they are not controlled by an ever enlarging prostate gland, fearing ED, and living in the past, but are rather active, flexible, centered, content and wise.  And I want to work with women in that age group who want a new relationship with their male friends devoid of the opposites of the first half of life and focused on their commonalities with a less gender-biased reality which defines the second half of life.  A retirement-era life in which our differences are replaced by a new harmony and coherence.  And you know what – both men and women are going to have to change their approach to one another and get over the pain from the first half of life in order to co-create a better way of living in the afternoon of their days.

What are you evolving to?

We have such potential in the afternoon of life.  If we can find purpose and meaning, it is likely many of us can and will live Evolving to our true nature involves embracing the core energies inside each of us.active lives until we are at least 85.  But the things that mattered in earlier days are gone.  Men, particularly, need to find a new way.  A new meaning.  A new authenticity.  We are not as strong, we can no longer make love four times a night, throw a fastball, dunk a basketball, hike into the woods with massive amounts of camera gear on our backs and hundreds of other things.  In saying this in no way am I saying that women do not have a similar challenge, but I see too many men sitting on lawn chairs at North Park in the summer and complaining about having nothing to do as they slip into a meaningless life.  They need to find a new way of “manning up”.

As men, we have things we never imagined we would have earlier times.  We have wisdom, even if looking for “masculine wisdom” produces an error in SEO tools since it is not searched for. We have experience.  We have patience.  We have humility.  We need to create a world in which masculine wisdom is not a contradiction in terms – we need to be evolving to that.

My practice focus is for men and women who are wisdom weavers.  People that want to weave together an integrated wisdom based on masculine and feminine energies.

To do this, my “retirement project” is to launch a new website and web community using  an integrated technology from Rainmaker.  It will include educational materials, podcasts, media, imagery, writings and forums dedicated to helping people weave wisdom together in an integrated, integral fashion.  It will also offer various life coaches an opportunity to participate in at least six areas:

  • Careers
  • Relationships
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Community and support

What about you?

Want to help change the world and chart your evolutionary path?  Please plan on sharing your story with us by participating in a new series beginning in January on reclaiming your authentic self in the second half of life.  We will be discussing this series during a live webinar on December 2 at 7 – 8 PM EST.  To register for this free event please click on join us below.shutterstock_114969346

Image Credits – Shutterstock

simplify - decluttering

Simplify

How did we get all this stuff?

As we age, there seems to be less attachment to possessions, or the need for possessions.  In the first half of life, I was consumed by being a consumer.  I had to have the latest “stuff”.  Even when I turned fifty, the entry point the afternoon of life, and we moved into a smaller condo during a relocation, the deal I made with my wife is that I could buy any electronics items that I wanted.  And I did.  We had gadgets everywhere.

When we moved to Pittsburgh ten years ago, we bought a four bedroom home for the two of us mostly to hold all of the stuff that we had bought in. Our sizable condo that we were moving out of was filled with books, electronics, photography gear and the matting tables and printers to support my professional fine art photography experiment.  But then we added even more to fill the deck with outdoor furniture and build out my home office as I launched my coaching practice. I was attracted to the idea of seeing clients in my office on the lower level of the house, which I have done for the last two years.  So we had filled up our space with stuff.

Downsizing and the opportunity to declutter life

We are now downsizing.  And like many things in life it came when we hit a tipping point.  Last week in this series I wrote about the knee injury that brought my awareness to the present moment back into focus and the need for mindfulness.  That silence and reflection finally got me in touch with the absurd lifestyle that we are currently living.

So we have decided to downsize, and in order to do that we are in the process of decluttering the house as many people do prior to listing it.  But we are going further than that.

In my research on how to declutter, I found a common theme of advice.  Look at every item you own and ask yourself” is it some thing that I need?”,  If not,  “is it something that brings me pleasure?”. Be honest.   If the answer is yes to both – then – “where am I going to put it in my home”?

Horcruxes in the Muggle World

In the Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling invented the term Horcrux as an object that “he who must be not be named” placed a part of his soul in.  I the series Tom Riddle – aka – Voldermort had placed his soul in six objects and in two other persons and he would live on until all of the  objects were destroyed.

I have a similar take on the same concept.  We place our energy, our soul in objects that we buy and those objects either enhance our lives or detract from it.  If our soul is partially placed in another person as it is in most marriages – it can be a positive placement or it can be a negative one. In the case of objects, we become burdened by all of the objects that we have sacrificed our soul for over the years.  It is easy to look around and ask myself, “What was I thinking?”.  It turns out – I was not thinking.  Just consuming.

If you now look at these objects and ask yourself if it is making your life better, really better. Then keep it.  But if it is making it worse, get rid of it.  What part of your soul have you given up to buy it and will releasing it heal your soul? Can you be grateful for it and then pass it on to someone who might be able to use it?

As I sit in this office, I am looking across the room at two clocks, a fountain that does not work, a Papago Indian basket with coasters in it, a cute sign that says “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark” three glass candle pyramids containing oil,  A Samsun flat screen TV (that already is not working well), sound bar, blue ray player, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, three candles and a “peace” plaque – and these are just the items out on the credenza across from my office – the office that will be downsized.

None of them are needed.  One of the clocks was given to me in Utah by an admin that I relied on.  The Peace plaque is a gift from my daughter, the Arc sign was bought  at an arts fair in North Carolina at the outer banks, the TV equipment is an asset owned by my company because I used it for clients and educational material.  In a simple world all of these objects could be given away.  For most people if they move they will keep them and cram them somewhere.

What do you need to do to simplify?

I think that the answer for how to deal with these objects is simple.  The clock form my admin – I can write Regina a note and thank her for her service to me twenty years ago and give the clock away.  The Peace plaque can be moved.  The TV and other electronics gear will probably fit in the office that we will share when we move as it is depreciated now anyway – or move to the office that my business will open next year.  The other stuff is of no real value and is not needed and holds no semimetal value.  We will keep the TV (if it can be fixed) because the TV in my wife’s working office is from the Clinton Administration and weighs three hundred pounds being one of the first HD TVs in 2000 – but it still works..

How do you simplify?

I do not think that we need to declutter as a political statement.  Or forced minimalism. I am a capitalist and I believe that people should be allowed to buy and consume whatever they want and I do not think we are going to save the planet by not being consumers.  We have bigger problems than “American style consumption” with the planet, and frankly I think we might be too far along the path to mass extinction for this planet in this isolated spot in one of many universes.  I am more concerned with our individual and collective spiritual journey’s of our timeless existence.

What are we supposed to be learning right now, right here?  How are we, as “conscious components of the universe” expanding our awareness? The baby boomers era of conspicuous consumption is ending just as the Millennials who supposedly shunned it are beginning to embrace it in their own unique ways.

The survival of the planet is a much bigger question. As boomers in the afternoon and early evening of life, we need to declutter so we can experience life in such a way that we are expanding our consciousness and awareness and not escaping from being in contact with the people around us.  I think that is what Thoreau meant when he penned, “simplify, simplify, simplify”.  Perhaps then we can give some of our wisdom back to the planet an help others grow and solve our many problems.

What do you do first?

So what do you need to do?  The best advice I encountered is to take all of the objects from a room and put them out so they are visible and go through them.  What can we give away? What can we sell? What do we want to keep and where are we going to put it?

Then deal with it – right here, right now. Photograph the objects you are going to sell and list them on Craig’s list, eBay or somewhere else you like.  Put the items for donation together list them out for tax purposes and take them to your favorite charity.  Put the things you are keeping away with a new found respect and gratitude for the items that made the cut. Some items that are moving to another room might need to be moved temporarily to that room until you do this  for every room in the house.

We will start the process this week for the room in our house that is going away – our utility room.  Over the next eight weeks until we list the house in January, we will do the same until we have the first pass of the entire house done.  As we pack for the move into the new home, I am sure that we will encounter additional opportunities.

Of course if you are not moving yet, you can still enter the new year clutter free in your existing home and it will refocus your whole approach to the holidays form what am I going to get to what can I give away and free myself of the responsibility of ownership.

What about you, what do you have to simplify?  I plan on coming back to this theme as we live through this “simplify” process and experience the gratitude and holiday seasons that we are entering.  Hopefully we can simplify that as well.

 

Paradox of wisdom, working and mindfulness

The afternoon of life

The paradox of the afternoon of life is that just as we may feel we are finally hitting our stride – if we do not take a siesta, we risk burning out – never making it to the evening of life. I have found myself looking at living according to the rules of the first half of life and one point, even said that it is better to burn out than rust. The reality is that mind-set almost certainly leads to death; sooner rather than later.

Mindfulness – the key

The key for living in the afternoon of life is mindfulness. The consequences of not being mindful at any point in life takes a toll, but as we age it manifests increasingly in the physical being.

A perfect example of this phenomena occurred recently, serving as a good reminder to me of lessons I thought I’d mastered. Life is nothing is not a persistent teacher! Recently I’ve been very close to burn out and decided to take a much needed vacation. Shortly into the week, I was already feeling better, but true to my somewhat controlling nature, I was frantically counting steps to get back into shape so that I could better cope with the stress that I had put myself under. Yes you read that right – I was trying to control my relaxation in order to better or more quickly bring myself back to equilibrium so that I could intentionally continue to pile on more stress. A bit of a nasty cycle now that I think about it…

In the evening, my type A personality was still in control, when I tripped over an ill designed corner fireplace corner (really not sure what the architects were thinking but perhaps I should thank them?) and landed on my knees. My already compromised left knee took the brunt of the fall and I immediately knew I had severely injured it. It would set the tone for the rest of the vacation, and in fact the rest of my life.

When I started my coaching practice three years ago, I was determined to help people lead the life they wanted to live in the afternoon of life. In launching that practice, however, I used the approach that worked for people in the second stage of life, what the Hindi’s called the “householder phase”. Both Carl Jung and Gail Sheehy, the author of the book “New Passages”, have asserted that in this phase males and females are the most drawn to overly masculine or overly feminine stereotypes of behavior. While the feminist movement allowed many women to tune out this meme, most if not all men my age clearly did tune into the provider meme. The cause of this stereotypical behavior is the biological imperative to procreate so that the species survives. Whether that works out for the species in the long run is still open to debate.

I tried falling back to householder phase. And it simply does not fit.

The Hindi culture also points to the next phase which is the forest dweller phase, a time of detachment from the world. This detachment is the foundation of effective mindfulness practices. As we age, both genders cross back to the middle of the spectrum, in fact crossing over for men to slightly more feminine energy and vice versa for women who shift towards more masculine energy. Essentially, men become more nurturing and women more independent as they hit their late fifties.

I had been trying to balance my masculine outreach energy during the day with the compulsion to fit in more nurturing activities in the evening . This resulted in something many young women experience today when attempting to “have it all”. Simply put – I burnt out by trying to do too muc. This balancing was by doing more instead of being more.  The “balancing” itself was really overusing masculine energy instead of integrating more rootedness.

As I recovered by resting, I downloaded the book – “New Passages”. I read the original book when I went through my thirties crisis shortly after it was published in 1976. It helped me perceive that my angst at the time was a normal passage. The new book was written in the nineties and I am surprised that I did not find it when researching how people shift in the second half of life because Gail identified that well before Wayne Dwyer and the authors of Quantum Change did in this century.

At this point, all I have re-identified is that I now know the questions to ask. This Monday blog series – Siesta – focuses on living in the afternoon of life by including mindfulness practices. What does it mean for men especially to embrace feminine wisdom and energy and live in harmony with it. This is not a new script for a Transparent type TV show. While gender fluidity is becoming the norm today, this particular exploration is not about clothing or dramatic behavior. It is about how does a sixty or seventy something male live a life of significance without burning out, coping out or dropping out, And how can we have fun doing it? It is the questions we need to ask ourselves.

If you are a guy who has turned sixty, how are you dealing with finding a reason to get up in the morning each day, now that we are living in a time for men where for the most part, the thrill of being a male is gone? If you’re a woman experiencing the shift of focus from nurturing to “doing” – how does that impact your sense of identity? Regardless of your gender – have you noticed these changes in your partner? How has it affected your relationship balance?

We would love to know your story.

Mindfulness to Achieve Your Destiny

Fulfilling your vision in life involves understanding your core values and aligning your activities and priorities to support those values. This involves a discovery process, unearthing the possibilities available to you and exploring which possibilities will help you to achieve the life of your dreams, separating those options leading to happiness from those which will take you down the wrong path. What you may find surprising is the way in which your feelings may affect how you participate in the world and how your feelings affect your decisions, and ultimately your fulfillment in life.

Your feelings play into your thought processes. As we discussed in The Life of Your Dreams – Imagine the Possibilities blog, your thought processes weigh heavily on allowing yourself to dream about the various possibilities that may lead to you realizing and living your dream life. Therefore, it is necessary to be mindful of your feelings in order to guide your thought processes to those that support your growth and to maximize your potential.

HOW YOUR FEELINGS HELP YOU MOVE FORWARD OR HOLD YOU BACK

Think about it. When we are feeling happy, we may want to connect with our friends and family and share those feelings. We may even want to meet new people and learn new activities. These happy feelings enhance our ability to discover our possibilities. When we are feeling sad, we may want to spend time alone. When we are angry, we may lash out at those we are angry at, be it at work, home or otherwise. We may even blame them for things going wrong in our lives. Neither feelings of sadness nor anger are likely to help us recognize what opportunities lay before us.

Too often, we are not even aware of how we are feeling or how those feeling prompt us to act in certain ways, let alone are we aware of the consequences of those feelings to our lives. That is why it is important to learn to be mindful of our feelings. Being mindful means that we are conscious of how we are feeling, but are not judgmental of it. We merely acknowledge and accept our emotions and feelings at that point of time. With a little work, it is possible to learn to be mindful and to use this mindfulness to improve and direct our lives.

THE BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS

Being mindful of how we show up in situations allows us to dig deeper to be aware of the underlying feelings, or emotions, that prompt us to respond and act in a certain way in various situations. By practicing mindfulness and awareness, we can then learn to react differently. If a certain situation repetitively makes you sad or angry, you can learn from that and make different choices. You can choose to avoid that situation, or if that is not possible, you can recognize that you are likely to feel sad or angry and change your perspective to alter those feelings. Mindfulness ultimately gives you the ability to create a life more aligned with your core values and related priorities, because you can make changes as your level of awareness strengthens.

HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness does not mean that you are ‘out there’ – being mindful means that you are consciously aware and make an effort to change things in your life based on your resulting feelings that you have in given situations. I’ve put together a short exercise for you to do on a daily basis to help you grow in your ability to be mindful and to be more in touch with your feelings.

MINDFULNESS EXERCISE: Each day, take 15 minutes to contemplate and answer the questions below. Yes, you deserve this quiet time for yourself! This minimal time commitment on a daily basis can literally be the difference of a ho-hum life versus a life where you achieve your destiny. So let’s get started.

  • How do you feel right now?
  • Are you peaceful and content about how your day unfolded?
  • What happened during the day that you wish would have gone better? What were you feeling that caused you to act or react the way you did? What can you do to let go of those feelings?
  • What happened during the day that you were pleased and joyful in? What were you feeling that helped you act and react in these instances? What can you do to keep yourself anchored in these feelings?

Commit to this exercise every day for 21 days. At the end of this three-week period, compare your answers from day one to day twenty-one. What did you learn? Are you closer to identifying with your true self than you were a mere three weeks ago? Chances are the answer will be a resounding yes. To continue to increase your ability to be mindful, take a few minutes each day to think about these questions. When an emotion or feeling strikes you unexpectantly, stop and reflect and learn. Use these opportunities to further know and understand yourself and to steer your life in the direction of personal success, your success!

Image – AdobeStock

The Life Of Your Dreams – Imagine The Possibilities!

Are you living the life of your dreams? If not, do you ever take the time to stop and consider why you’re missing the mark when it comes to your own life? It’s easy to get caught up in survival mode, where you just do the things you need to do to get through each day. Perhaps you sprinkle a few fun activities here and there in an attempt to keep a bit of balance, or maybe you’re so focused on achieving the path that others have set forth for you that you don’t even manage that much. This doesn’t have to be the case. Imagine what your life could be like if everything you do is aligned with your values and moves you closer towards the destination of your dreams.

Does the thought of truly living the life of your dreams sound just like that, like some airy-fairy dream? Well, I’m here as a coach to tell you that it’s possible. You can live the life of your dreams by acknowledging all the options that are available and then taking action to move you toward those dreams. When you understand your core values and align your activities and priorities with those values, you have set the foundation to be able to live the life of your dreams. True, there’s more to it than that, but once you’re on this path of understanding your own personal and unique journey, you have the ability to create your own vision, and to be able to achieve that vision. This my dear friends, is what’s called living the life of your dreams.

So why do people fall short? Because too often people fail to truly consider the possibilities available to them. For starters, how often do you allow yourself to reflect on what you really want your life to look like? If you don’t consider the possibilities, you won’t achieve them.

So why do many fail to consider their possibilities, if doing so can bring so much joy and fulfillment? Often it is because our thinking process gets in our way. The thoughts that we focus on, whether on purpose or out of habit, keep us reacting in a similar way time and time again. Let me restate that. If you don’t change your thought process, you won’t change your ways, and this may keep you from your dream life.

Repetitive thoughts create feelings and emotions that affect our peace of mind, our levels of stress, and our physical well-being. These repetitive thoughts, conscious or unconscious, are the building blocks of what our life looks like at this moment in time.

The good news is that you can change your thought process and create a life filled with the ‘things’ that you love and care about. Yes, you truly can!

Before your thought process takes you into an argumentative or a denial mode, allow yourself to just pretend it is true. Now that you’ve given yourself this permission, take a few moments and dream about your perfect life. Immerse yourself in your greatest possibilities. Take note of how you feel. Do you feel a sense of joy?

LIVING WITH JOY AND FULFILLMENT

Joy is said to be experiencing a feeling of pleasure and happiness, or that of delight; while fulfillment is a feeling of satisfaction. Fulfillment is the result of achieving a goal that you worked hard to achieve. When you focus your energies on the long-term goal of achieving your life’s goal, a goal that is the best possibility for your values and priorities, you win the game. You experience a life of joy and fulfillment. A life you can love and share. Now that you have felt a glimpse of that joy, let’s take dreaming about your possibilities to the next level.

DREAMING ABOUT YOUR POSSIBILITIES

Possibilities represent all the things that may happen in your life, all the different outcomes. By allowing yourself to guide your thoughts, you can choose the best possibility for your life, allowing you to live the possibility of your dreams.

But first you must remove obstacles. Challenge your ideas and ideals. Look for opportunity in challenging places. Replace thoughts that are holding you back with thoughts that encourage you to move forward. Do new things with new people. Let yourself live. Don’t hold back. Once you begin to remove obstacles in your thought process and to widen your horizons, you’ll feel more energized and more like yourself. Make it a habit to challenge yourself on every level while you explore and consider the possibilities for your dream life.

In the meantime, you may find it helpful to write a story about all the ways your life could be arranged that would bring you joy and fulfillment. In your story, consider the following ideas.

  1. Where would you live? What geographic area of the world would you live in? What would your home look like? How would you feel when you were at your home?
  2. Who would you live with? Who would you spend time with? How would you feel when you were with these individuals?
  3. What work would you do that fills your soul? What would be important about your work?
  4. What community activities would you participate in? What causes are important to you? What difference would you like to make?
  5. What would you do for fun? Do you love to draw, sculpt, or paint? Would you travel? Where would you visit?
  6. Do you love to dance, watch movies, read, or hang glide? What activities fill you with joy, excitement, peace?
  7. Do you surround yourself with pets? Do you love animals, nature, the beach, mountains, or the desert?
  8. What else would you have in your life? What are all your possibilities?

Now that you wrote your story, read it aloud. How do you feel when you read your story? If you were honest with your answers, you might feel a little scared (change can be that way), but you likely feel a sense of freedom and enlightenment. Hold this close to your heart, remember it and continue to move towards it.
Image – ShutterStock

Why New Years resolutions fail

Why New Years resolutions fail – and how you can cultivate lasting change

I stopped making New Years resolutions a long time ago because they never seemed to amount to anything.  The most frequent resolution for me was to get back into shape or lose weight.  But when we make resolutions to make big, drastic changes in our lives – we set ourselves up for failure. Humans resist change. It ain’t pretty but it is true. In order to affect true, sustainable change – we need a different plan of attack.

What Works

Over the last twenty years, I have gradually made small changes in my life to both loose weight and get into shape. The real results came from small changes over time and by gradually crowding out bad habits with better behaviors.

Each of these changes have come around the new year and are the result of a process which is in tune with the cycle of the earth in the northern hemisphere, particularly the part that gets real winter each year.

As the days shorten this time of year and we approach the winter solstice, we have more time for reflection.  Christians celebrate Advent, a time of preparing for the arrival of the Christ child or new life.  Other religions have similar beliefs and we are now in the time of the crone for the Celtic pagans awaiting rebirth in early February.

Woven into these traditions is time for reflection on how we have lived.  As a coach, I always want to know what’s working and what’s not with my clients and I apply the same thing each year for myself.  In fact, that is what I started working on in early November with my own coach.

Things I Have Changed

A few years ago, I realized that my attempt to find a late life career in photography was too non-social and was not meeting my needs.  I spent a few months reading and researching, with the intention of finding a new path.  I had no idea of where that path would lead, but in my studies I read The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, discovered the PSYCH-K process and realized that I needed to become a professional coach from the feedback of others in the workshops.  I trained for it and launched my practice when I completed my training.

The following year, I read Wheat Belly after listening to Wayne Dyer reference the book.  I discovered that I was probably allergic to the changes in modern wheat. After eliminating it from my diet, I lost inches of belly fat that has never returned. Four years later – I am grateful for the major reduction in inflammation in my joints.

Three years ago, at this time of year, I discovered that dairy products were something that also produced inflammation in my body. I came across information that baby’s given milk before the age of two (like I was) often develop an allergy to the protein in milk (casein) and become inflamed and congested from consuming it.  I have gone from up to twelve sinus infections per year to two over the last three years – which I credit to the removal of processed dairy from my diet.

Reflect -> Intent

All of these resolutions were made from reflection and intention.  When I decided to become a coach, my intention was -and still is- to give back to others from the gifts that I have been given. It is act of an acceptance of those gifts and the intent to use them well.  I suspect that I might never “get rich” from the venture, but I am making a difference in people’s lives, which fulfills my own personal sense of purpose.

The lifestyle changes were made from the intention of being healthy so I am not a burden to my children as I age.  I want to be as healthy as I can be for as long as possible. Though this – I can continue to contribute and not become unnecessarily dependent on others. We cannot control the outcome, but we can set the intention to be as healthy and as contributing as possible.

This is a great time of the year to reflect.  To go into stillness and quietly ask, “Who am I?”  “What do I want?” “How can I contribute?” And then set some intentions for the time of the year when we have more daylight and more energy.

Try This

For thirty minutes each day turn off the TV. Stop tweeting. Stop pinning pictures to Pinterest.  Spend some time with yourself. Figure out what is working well and what is not.  Read a book that strikes your fancy.

And then in the stillness of the winter set one intention for next year. But do it from a place of gratitude and a feeling of abundance for all that you have.

Gratitude

As we age it is easy to tune into what we no longer have.  For me – it is great eyesight, tremendous drive and business success, the ability to eat anything I want, sleeping through the night and so on. Tune into what replaced those things you miss.  Wisdom, trust in my intuition and experience, acceptance of others and the willingness to not so desperately struggle for the last word.  Most importantly, it is my ability to shut off my monkey mind and just be still.

Be Still Like Broccoli

In the movie Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts’ character says to the busy executive (Richard Gear) after she takes his cell phones out of his hand, “be still like Broccoli”.  In 1991, I could not relate to this wisdom.  That was my loss at that point in my life.  Today, I can be still and be with myself.

This year, how about you? Are you wiling to be still like broccoli and find one thing to change in your life?

Image Credit – Shutterstock

Seven Levels of Consciousness

Today there is a movement towards conscious capitalism. Many are benefiting from this movement, including onCore Ventures, but what is consciousness? According to the Oxford Dictionary: consciousness is “The state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.” My training in the art and science of coaching has taught me that the filters through which we view the world colors our awareness; and therefore our consciousness; as depicted on the following chart:

shutterstock_118660210-[Converted]

iPEC teaches that there are seven levels of consciousness and each level has three properties associated with it. iPEC breaks these seven levels into unconsciousness, awareness and consciousness. I find these confusing and believe they are all, in fact, levels of consciousness, to the point that I have created my own chart. I have intentionally put the higher levels of consciousness on the bottom, because there are advantages in each level.  In fact when Deepak Chopra teaches this concept he uses the term “earlier” levels of consciousness as opposed to “lower” levels.

20140727-shutterstock_155804528The lowest level, level one, in this hierarchy is Victim consciousness. It is characterized by the primary mindset of “I lose.” People with their primary energy level in this sphere often say things like “I could never do that,” and usually this strategy works just fine because someone else does “it” for them. I grew up with a father that had a lot of this energy and his life was controlled by it. Corporate America is filled with such victims.  In fact, many traditional companies intentionally tie the hands of their associates to the point where for many, this the “normal” way of showing up.

 

20140727-shutterstock_117223333The next level up is level two, Conflict consciousness. It is characterized by “You lose” as the primary thought pattern. Life is great for people primarily stuck in level two energy in companies or relationships with other people with a lot of level one energy. Both parties are equally miserable and comfortable with it.  But often times it seems like working in environments like these brings out the worst in most people and they are consistently wrestling with one another.

The downside to these levels – even if they work for you – is that you are under constant stress. This means your body is releasing cortisol, which does great things if you are running or fighting, but not so great things if you are just sitting there seething in a meeting or an argument. Cortisol shuts down your prefrontal cortex, insuring that you are pretty much unconscious of higher order thinking along with body basics such as digestion, excretion, blood flow to the extremities, and many other undesirable things.

As we become aware of our surroundings more, we begin to regain control and use of our prefrontal cortex, along with circulation to our nose and hands, we move into level three of consciousness which is Responsibility. This is where we take responsibility for our lives and begin to think in terms of “I win.” This is both good and bad because we are indifferent to how the other person is doing in our interaction, but it is, at least, good for us. We find it easier to forgive people and we begin to cooperate with others.

Further up the scale, level four, is Compassion consciousness – in which we now are focused on “You win”. In this level, we show up in service to others. An organization that I belong to for networking, BNI, has created a whole culture on this level of consciousness. The BNI motto is “Givers gain.” Great things can happen with this level of energy, however if we are unaware of our own needs and therefore fail to get what we want, we can easily descend into level one victim consciousness. The thinking goes something like this “If only I did more to save Charley, he would not have hung himself on the chandelier.” Ridiculous when you look at it on paper, and yet so many of us fall into this trap.

20140728-shutterstock_137478323Level five consciousness is Reconciliation. This is not a reconciling with God per say, but with the notion that we are all one. We can either win or fail, and both are just fine. There is tremendous acceptance of ourselves and others at this level. Great things can happen here. iPEC calls these three levels the awareness levels because we have to consciously decide to act. In these levels things happen for and because of us, not simply “to” us. This means our egos are in check and we are operating in a cooperative fashion with others. But as Voltaire and Uncle Ben (Stan Lee) teach us, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We must be ever diligent to our awareness in order to be successful. People with a lot of level five energy, (which is where I operated while in the corporate world) will descend, often rapidly, into level two conflict when stressed. If we both can’t win, then your gonna lose!

The two upper levels of consciousness do not require as much awareness on our part, in fact our ego really is a bystander to the process. In level six consciousness Synthesis takes place from a state of wisdom. This means that there is still some effort on our part to make things happen, but we are relying on our deep understanding of others and of life and our field of work to create.

At level seven, there is no effort needed and we exist in a place of Non-Judgement. This is not simply non-judgement of others’ actions but also of ourselves, and the universe at large. There is no “bad” or “good”. There is simply “is”. This is where true and effortless creation happens. This is the law of attraction and the power of intention in action. I believe it has to be in an area of our passion for life itself for it to happen. The header image featured above is an example of my photography in which I was absolutely passionate about my craft and the image simply appeared to me. It was precisely what I was searching for and yet, in level seven, we no longer need to actively search.

As a photographer, I like to think of these seven levels of consciousness as different lenses through which to view the world. The lower or earlier levels are primitive lenses and may distort the image, while the upper levels are like modern superb lenses with image stabilization and automatic correction of aberration and distortion. You can choose whichever lens or filter best suits the task at hand.

The ideas around these levels of consciousness were developed by Bruce Schneider the founder of iPEC and a master coach and therapist. They mirror the levels that were first reported by David Hawkins, PHD, MD in Power versus Force. Bruce developed an assessment to create a reading of levels, while David uses muscle testing to do the same thing. I am trained in both methods and use them in my coaching practice.

How about you? Have you experienced the higher levels of consciousness? Do you struggle with low level energy?

Image Credits: Header image – Frederick Geiger, all others – Shutterstock.