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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

Moving Van

Downsizing – To Move or not to move?

Moving

One of the realities of the afternoon of life is that we are going to move, even if it is to an urn on our grandchildren’s mantle or a hole in the ground.  It is not a question of if, it is a question of when and a question of how.  Many people, as they reach the age of traditional retirement, fight to hold on to the activity level they had.  They like the comfort and the lifestyle so they plod along shoveling snow and landscaping yards far past the point of enjoyment.  Others begin to fall victim to the clear cut effects of an aging body and they let their homes and themselves go to “seed”.  In both cases, the result is often denial of the fact that it is time to make a decision on where and how to live.  And as a result we do not realize that it is time to move on, emotionally and or physically.

Holding on to the past

What “once were vices are now habits” is the title of a song by the Eagles from back in the morning of the lives of todays boomers – or the 70’s for those of you born more recently.  Consumerism, in the form of adding more plants and shrubs to our suburban plots and maintaining properties that were great when the kids were home but are now empty most of the time, is really pointless.  Well, actually more than pointless – they are a time drain and a waste of effort unless the activities still bring enjoyment.

When Levitt built the fist sub-division on Long Island that bears his name, it is reported that he believed that if returning GI’s had to take care of property on weekends and improve their homes, they would not have time to be socialists or communists.  It seems that the fears of socialist ideas that were in vogue in the depression-era America of the thirties were still fresh in his mind and were a real fear.  It is hard to even consider that fear today as we are solidly consumer orientated.

Fast forward seventy years and today’s children of that “greatest generation” are still plodding along and spending countless hours or dollars taking care of properties that have long outlived their usefulness.  Why?

From society’s view it is because this keeps us busy and ensures we are good American consumers.  Watch the TV commercials during sporting events and see the ads for Christmas.  Nothing says “Merry Christmas, celebrate the birth of the son of God” more than a new Lexus.  Right behind that are commercials for The Home Depot and Lowe’s – fix up your house for the holidays. If that doesn’t get you, drink Miller lite and feast on chips and salsa in front of a brand new 4k TV during the playoffs.

What if we moved away from these houses, cars, and gadgets and freed up time for work to change a society gone crazy with consumerism and over extended time commitments. Could we make a difference by moving from individual homes to a community of intergenerational people that could use our wisdom?  Could we establish community with others like us in a fifty-five and over community and perhaps make a difference by working collectively to share our wisdom with others while having some fun in the process?

Why do we hold on and delay a move to a more freeing lifestyle?  We probably do not know what we would do differently.  So we keep on keeping on. I am living through this right now.  I am holding on to clients I no longer want to coach (not you if you are reading this, one of the other guys). I am holding on to possessions that I no longer need (but as I wrote last week, that is being taken care of). I am holding on to chores that I no longer need and never wanted to do in the first place (I hate landscaping).

What can life be like now?

rebirth, vision, second life, retirement, giving back, life coaching pittsburgh

Perhaps it is because we have not allowed ourselves to determine what life can be like now. For me, I have decided I want to do the following:

  • Create a new web based business to help people deal with stress, disease, and interruptions and move toward mindfulness and well being
  • Move to a community where I can be around people my own age that want to spend time with others on community related projects
  • Spend time visiting family – especially my grandchildren – and act as a positive influence in their lives
  • Spend more time being as opposed to doing – which is in harmony with my own human operating system
  • Take some college courses in areas that I never studied because “there was no money in that” – as my grandparents were known to say

So, it is easy for me to make a move – I know what I want to move to.  As I write this, Walter and his friends are blowing away the leaves form the trees around my home.  I am grateful for Walter, really grateful. I live in a forest. I will be more grateful that next year I will not have to hire Walter to do this. And I now know what I want to be doing instead.

How to get startedMove, Simplify, downsize, discovery, coaching Pittsburgh

So if you are like me and find that discovering your authentic self is long overdue for you, I have a thought for you to consider.  I remember hearing about the gravestone of a man named John – it said – “Here lies
John, born a man, died a grocer”. For all of the people nearing retirement and thinking that there must be a better way of living in the afternoon of life, we have a tele seminar  in two weeks.  Join us to find out what is stopping your move and find out what music is still left inside of you to be played. Perhaps it is time to stop working for the “man” and be the man or woman that you were born to be. Perhaps it is time to move.

 

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.

Jawbone UP24 as a tracking tool

In preparation for a series on consciousness and awareness, I have been doing some research, which led me to a number of product offerings designed to entrain the brain into a readiness state conducive to meditation. I have found a couple that I will use and be reporting back on in the coming weeks. The first tool that I have found as a feedback to increase awareness is a new device from Jawbone.

Ever since I started using a Jawbone UP24 device in February, I have become a big fan of using technology in general to improve health. Prior to using Jawbone, my sleep was often in the five to six hour per night range. Knowing that what we track changes, I started using my device as a tracking tool to bring awareness to my bad habits and crowd them out with good habits.

Over the last ten days, I have exceeded my goal of 7.5 hours of sleep 8 times. The only discrepancies were getting up for early morning meetings. I have not yet seen a significant increase in my step count, but lumbar issues are playing a role there. Despite lower back issues, I am averaging about seven thousand steps per day, well short of my ten thousand step goal, but in the top thirty percent of UP24 users. It is now starting to trend upward, however.

So, satisfied with that progress, I am now using a new feature for food tracking. It has been an eye opener. I have seen that my daily protein intake is lower than I need it to be, but by and large everything else is in line. I did however; fine-tune my smoothie recipe by cutting the Avocado amount in half, when I saw the overall calorie count. I was pleased to see my sugar intake averaging below fifty grams per day. (Note -As a health coach, I need to point out that the sugar that is consumed really needs to be watched for what form the sugar is and how it is consumed.  Mine for the most part came from whole foods eaten in conjunction with mostly vegetables and a healthy fat source in the same meal so that the absorption is handled.  Even fifty grams of sugar consumed in two candy bars in the form of high fructose corn syrup is not in your best interest.)

There are a number of features in the app that others have commented on elsewhere. From a coaching perspective, I think that it is more interesting to comment on how I have been able to self-coach myself into new behavior by having feedback. Knowing that I will receive feedback each morning on sleep, throughout the day on activity and now on food, it brings awareness to me on my food intake, my activity and my sleep. And awareness fuels positive change.

I am now paying more attention to how these are related. Over time, I will be able to see if there is a connection between the amount I exercise and sleep, as well as the food that I consume and sleep quality/quantity. One key thing that I can now easily track is the amount of water I drink in a day. Most Americans drink far too little water. When I ask clients how much they drink, the answer is usually “not enough.” What we track – we can change – and using the app on my iPhone allows me to track this easily, because looking at it throughout the day to see how I am doing has become a habit.

I am also now seeing that I have periods in the day that do not have activity in them. My chiropractor tells me that sitting is the new smoking, and I now have a device that will tell me to move if I have been sitting for more than an hour (personal setting).. Five months into using this device, I seem to be getting into a rhythm with it. Over the last ten days, my step count has been over 10,000 steps 7 times, and my sleep is averaging above my target of 7.5 hours/night. Being active and getting sleep are the ante or “table stakes” for playing the game of the second half of life. I certainly recommend trying a device like the Jawbone UP24 to others.

How about you? What tricks/tools are in your good health toolbox?

Millennials

Learning from Millennials

Insights from Millennials

I read a blog post  from Huffington Post recently that solidified my thoughts on the wisdom of youth and evolution of the collective unconsciousness. Today’s young adult generation “Millennial’s”, to a large degree, realize intuitively something that took me many years to learn and that is that Boomers got it all wrong with the workaholic consumer driven behavior that we adopted in the eighties. I will not repeat the full list of Millennial insights discussed in the blogpost, but a few really resonated with me.

The first is “Do what you want”. I still struggle with this. I still try to do what I think “I should be doing.” I want to give back and strive to do it, but frankly, giving back by using the core energies that I have used for so long that I feel like I’ve used them up and no longer suit me, is just not cutting it. I find myself doing some things that I hate. This is draining and makes me feel the same way that I did when I was in corporate. I know that I either need to reframe the way that I am doing this particular thing or simply not do it. Seems pretty simple right? But I question whether many boomers really know what we want to do as opposed to what we think we should be doing.  I have a client who tells me that I am the voice in her head, and this amuses me because I wish that the voice in my own head was the voice that she hears. Unfortunately for me, the voice in my own head tends to sound an awful lot like that of my parents.

I suspect that most Millennials were raised by a higher level of consciousness from their boomer or Gen X parents than Boomers were from their “Greatest Generation” parents. The guilt, fear and scarcity that we were raised with is still paying dividends all these years later. Perhaps for Boomers to do what they want – rather than denying our needs – we have to finally reparent ourselves.  I thought that I had, my actions recently however – tell me otherwise. Wasting a day of the few that I have left is simply not in my best interest.  There are ways of paying it forward that do not drain me.  And frankly, I do not need to be paying it forward all of the time. I did not leave too much on the field of play in the first half of my life, so having fun now is okay.  So “do what YOU want to do” is my new motto and I encourage you to adopt it as well.

Millennials and technology

Another item on the Millennials list of “givens” that stuck out to me is to “Embrace Technology.”  This is something which I have always thought that I was naturally good at.  But in retrospect, I find that I was doing it with preconceived notions on what “effective” and “legitimate” uses of technology constitutes. I was basing this on the tools with which I’m comfortable such as  personal computers and laptops, but not smart phones, social media, and leading edge inventions coming out of modern scientific knowledge today.

Over the weekend, I discovered (via an email from Integral Enlightenment) a set of software from iAwake Technologies designed to improve the  quality of your mediation experience.  This is technology that I have seen and even played with to a certain degree.  Last Christmas, my wife gave me a product that used bio feedback to improve your mediation experience.  I have tried it, but found that staring at a computer to see that my pulse and breathing was in harmony with what it should be was not really effective for me.  My respiration count and resting heart rate are already under control.

The technology from iAwake, however, simply uses entrainment of the brain to deepen the meditation experience.  I am using this twice a day, for forty minutes each time.  I have never been able to meditate for that length of time prior to using this technology.  I have found that is is now almost effortless to hold my mantra in my mind, and I am no longer beset by hundreds of thoughts during my meditation.  This has resulted in deeper meditation and less impact “off of the cushion” by stress.  There is a reason Zen teaches “after enlightenment- laundry.”  It is because we can re-enter the world after a mindfulness practice easily and proceed to do the laundry of the 21st century.

Is this cheating?  Maybe.  But who cares.  I am sure that with discipline, I could get to the quality of meditations that I am getting immediately from this technology. To be fair – I am trained in primordial sound meditation from the Chopra Center and have practiced meditation for most of the last two years. But not to this level of quality.  SO, which is of greater value? Spending a couple hundred dollars for technology or spending years of training?  A Millennial would simply just buy it.  I did as well, and it works.  Oh, and by the way, I also love Pinterest.

How about you? Do you struggle with the voices of “Should” and “Should Not!” inside your head? Do you meditate? Do you feel leveraging technology to enhance a spiritual practice to be cheating? And if so – is that OK?

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.

You are not broken

Many people are stuck in victim energy or see others as victims – what if we were not broken?  We choose to remain broken, it is a way of being a victim and not needing to take responsibility for ourselves.  We become our disease.  Oh, I can’t do that – I have cancer. Or we become our limiting belief – I cannot dance, I have two left feet. We can transcend our broken beliefs by channeling the divine through us as was taught by Jesus when he said the kingdom of God is within you. I have been working with John Craig on a new video series. This series of his is an experiment as it is for me.  Working with John has been a gift to me and I hope to produce more work with him in the future.  This first experiment on my part with video has been very enlightening to me.  As photographer I have never liked being in the picture.  This video has allowed me to realize that the potential for this medium is one that I have been ignoring. Enjoy.

 

New Rules are Needed for Work-Life Balance

We are scales.

Not the digitalized platform in which many of us fear. I mean the traditional, two-sided scale. It’s common sense; when one side is more heavily weighted, the device is thrown off balance. We work the same way.

Work-Life Balance is the key driver. From what I have learned from the last few months, new rules define second stage solutions for retirement years.

In my last entry, I focused on the need for balance and meditation – to be centered. While I work with people at the early stages of the second half of life, I have the advantage of being far enough down the road to know where the physical changes hit that show up screaming at you, “BE SMART!”

When I was in my late forties, things changed. My eyesight got to the point where I could not fake it, and I had to wear glasses. I felt old for the first time. Joint pain started at different times, and I just felt worse than I used to. I gave in and got the glasses, and I started working out with less gusto and more care.

Then in my early sixties things dramatically changed again. I fell on uneven ground carrying a camera and tripod in icy conditions. I fell again on black ice with a camera and landed flat on my back. My days often involved an extra unwanted dosage of pain. My skin did not have the depth and translucency of the past. Because of that, I got more radical with my diet, as I have talked about, and my health took a turn for the better.

Then, my wife’s illness, other family issues, increased efforts at launching my own venture, and falling back into the ways of the first half of life for business rules all hit at the same time.

These restrictions could not dominate my life if I wanted to live a long, healthy, happy life. It was time to turn a new leaf and allow myself to take on some new rules.

So, what exactly are these new rules?

  • The need for balance
  • More time for recovery
  • Sleep
  • Be true to your own agenda

Balance is always important, and our health depends on it. But as we get older, I have found that our bodies punish us faster if we break this rule. I was told in my youth that you had to be enjoying yourself fifty-percent of the time while you worked or you were in the wrong job. I am following the rule to find enjoyment in the entirety of my ventures, or find another way of doing them or different ones to do.

I got into this lifestyle so that we could eat well and have a comfortable home environment, and that I could be creative. For the last month, l was working fourteen-hour days and not taking the time for meal prep or other nurturing activities. This double whammy of not balancing my activities between masculine activities and feminine activities and eating food of questionable quality was a disaster for me.

Older bodies take more time to recover. Allow for it. Take an afternoon nap if you need it. While I do not do this, I find that I feel much better if I give myself an afternoon mediation session before starting dinner prep. And doing the prep rather than eating out or ordering in puts better food in our bodies.

Sleep sounds simple. It is more than the time for it, it is the prep for it. Being active late at night makes it difficult for me to sleep. This means that evening classes and teleseminars that I schedule have to allow for time into the next morning to recover. My spouse is younger than I am and gets up early. That means I might have to stay in bed when she gets up, on occasion, in order to get the rest that I need. We all have different needs. We are responsible for determining what they are and holding to them.

This leads to the last item. Be true to your own agenda. The first half of life is combined into two parts: preparing for adulthood and getting our offspring to adulthood. Second Stage Solutions are about OUR needs. This is not narcissistic or selfish thinking. If at this point in our lives we do not meet our needs, we are going to become diseased and put more burden on others. Our hospitals and care facilities are filled with people with all of the diseases of our times. Why not do what makes us happy, and eat good food so we do not get sick? To me, this does not sound like such a bad plan.

I am not telling you to be selfish; I am saying to give back in a way that is onCORE with who you are. So for me, being a caregiver to my spouse while she is still in the workforce is part of who I am. Practicing photography, editing, and using my own work is part of who I am. Understanding new technology trends and applying them is part of who I am. Coaching others is part of who I am. Writing is part of who I am. Teaching is part of who I am. Learning is part of who I am.

So my second stage solutions for me is to balance these in such a way that I feel natural and comfortable. Tomorrow is September 1, in my mind the start if a new school year. Time for new rules. Time to balance the scale.

Inflammation – It’s the Environment, Stupid!

What do cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s all have in common? Besides being words that we hope never come out of our doctors’ mouths, there’s something else; inflammation. Our bodies environment is hot, fat and crowded. Makes you cringe a little, doesn’t it? The standard American diet has been cited by the six doctors that we quoted three weeks ago. They all point to inflammation as a common cause of these diseases of the second half of life. When I think about the effects of inflammation, I am drawn to Death Valley.

I began looking at my own body’s environment when I read the book “Wheat Belly“.  Within this journey, I found that as I cut out my consumption of wheat, and then cheese, things dramatically got better. My thinking got clearer, my joint pain lessoned – in places like knees, and fingers, and the like.  Believe it or not, you can survive without those greasy grilled cheese sandwiches. In fact, you’ll thrive. As I completed my coursework for IIN, studied scores of diets, internalized all of the work on how our diet can improve our health and either prevent or reverse the diseases listed above, I started to become very smug.  I started to believe that I was eating really well.  Then, I contracted one of those pestering ear infections, and for the last three months have struggled to get back on track, from a health perspective at least.

In the afternoon (or late evening, as I sometimes think of it) of our lives, our toleration for mistakes is lessened over that of our earlier years.  I read the “Honeymoon Effect” and listened to the person that started this journey for me – Bruce Lipton – talk about the effects of stress and cortisol on the environment in our bodies.  I commented on this two weeks ago, and I thought, Fine, I just need to relax a bit, and simple awareness will make all of this angst go away.  To a point it did.  But not completely, and certainly not authentically.

I started to meditate more and slow down, but I was on deadline for a number of things.  I did not really focus on it.  I did not mediate as if my life depended on it.  For those of you that prefer the term “prayer” to “meditation” – feel free to substitute.  I remember when I used the “prayer” term – I would turn things over to God, but then take them back.

Here is the dirty little secret that I rediscovered over the last few months.  Encore Entrepreneur – or Entrepreneur – same thing.  One thing is in common to both.  In 1994, I had the pleasure of listenting to Michael Gerber (the author of the E-Myth) speak about the midset of the typical small business owner.  One day, you wake up and you realize you are working for a tyrant.

It does not matter if you are working fourteen hour days for “the man,” for your own thing, or for your cause.  If you are working fourteen hours and you are not having fun with at least half of it, you are probably building up cortisol, which is making your body hot, and not in the glamorous way. It is inflaming it, and it does not matter what food you are eating – you are going to feel bad, maybe even awful.  If you are working fourteen hours a day but living onCORE and in harmony with yourself, then spending the day in Death Valley might not be all bad.

Plein Aire

I can choose – I could be in the “death valley” of business – wandering around, bitching. My mindset: “Damn, I am in death valley, and life sucks.”

Or, I can grab a camera, since I cannot paint, and get up in the early morning light to enjoy the day, even if that camera is metaphorical.  If you have followed this blog, then you know that I identified this a few weeks ago, and here I am still writing about it. Well I did title that entry – Remedial.  And I guess that I am still remedial.  At the time that I wrote it I thought that I had the answer.  Maybe I did, but I left out a real daily centering every day.

One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Wayne Dwyer, has told the story that he would get frenetic – as I have gotten recently with the challenges of launching a business – being “in the world”, so to speak.  He would question another of my favorite teachers Deepak Chopra, and Deepak’s answer was simply one word – MEDITATE. Wayne would say some thing along the lines of, “But Deepak, don’t you think…” And he would simply say, “MEDITATE!”  For me, the food is one thing, and it is very important, but the real answer is to center myself daily, – so I can be IN the world and not OF it, in the famous words of St. Paul.