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Give, Receive, Give, Receive

A few weeks ago I was out for an afternoon walk at the park in Corte Madera. It was a lovely Spring day and there were lots of parents and children playing. A little boy was riding his scooter down a gentle incline, practicing his balance with both feet on the scooter. His Mom/adult friend was watching and enthusiastically cheering him on. As I walked by I had the urge to add my encouragement, then a part of me thought that he had plenty of that already and so I paused for a moment, self-censoring and second-guessing my natural instincts. Fortunately those instincts were (and are!) strong and overrode that restricting of the flow of positive energy which is my true nature (every being’s true nature.) The wise one within knows there’s never a good reason to hold back our positive energy.

I offered him a big smile of appreciation (for his youthful, playful, joyous be-ing) and said, “Good Job.” And as I walked on, still smiling at his delight in the moment, I heard him say with happiness and excitement, “She said ‘Good Job!’”, which seemed to please his Mom/adult friend, too. I was so touched that two nice words, a smile, and the positive energy offered with them would bring happiness to others. It was a small, yet very important, lesson in how much of an influence our thoughts/words/energy have on the world around us. I strongly desire to be a Positive Force in the world and so I am now even more conscious of the thoughts I think, the words I say, and the energy I cultivate and put forth. And I am getting better at recognizing when I am cutting myself off from the flow of infinite positive energy. Because I am aware of the joy it brings to my life and the lives of those I encounter on this journey, I am committed to cultivating it and radiating it.

The Real Guru is the Divinity Within

J and I had the honor of meditating with/learning from Sri Shivarudra Balayogi Maharaj the other evening. Great thanks to Yoga of Sausalito for hosting the evening in their very comfortable/warm/welcoming studio. And great thanks to Sri Shivarudra Balayogi Maharaj (and those who assist him on his mission) for sharing his peaceful energy and timeless wisdom. And the music and chanting were Wonderful!

This is the beautiful message I am carrying forth from the experience:

Practice, practice, practice!

Dedication, Discipline, and Patience will yield the results you desire.

You are secure and regular, daily meditation practice will teach you, remind you, of this.

The real guru is the Divinity Within (the silent wisdom) which is experienced as inspiration.

Creative Pathfinder- Learnings, Weeks 21-26

I embarked on the Creative Pathfinder journey on September 3, 2010 – eight months ago! And I’ve so enjoyed the experience – every step on the “path” I’m finding/creating. I’ve said it before, but need to say it again: Mark McGuinness is smart, and wise, and insightful, and Creative, and most generous to share this course for Free. It’s worth a lot. I’ve benefited a great deal in these eight months of examining myself and learning methods and practices to increase my productivity and success.

Lesson 21
Topic = What Motivates Us?
Insights

The funny thing is, the work is usually quite enjoyable when you get going and intrinsic motivation takes over. But to get you going in the first place place, you sometimes need the extrinsic motivation of ‘deadline magic’.
-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 22
Topic = Rejection and Criticism
Insights

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Lesson 23
Topic = Difficult People

People are much more complex than the labels we stick on them.
-Mark McGuinness

Insights

In Aikido, Harmony, and the Business of Living (Zanshin Press), Richard Moon calls the practice of being fully present and fully aware “Feel Where You Are.” If you are to truly listen, engage, and empathize with someone challenging you then you yourself must be completely aware of your situation and aware of their situation and all the subtle signals. One who is fully in the present cannot be caught off guard. “Feeling where you are,” says Moon, “refines awareness into attention.
-Garr Reynolds

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Lesson 24
Topic = Fun and Informative Presentations
Insights

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Lesson 25
Topic = Managing Creatives
Insights

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Lesson 26
Topic = Measuring Success
Insights

Maybe you want to save the world, or at least part of it. Or maybe you want to delight and amaze it, which is just as valid. But if you don’t make it a priority, you risk falling short.
-Mark McGuinness

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Creative Pathfinder- Learnings, Weeks 17-20

This quartet of lessons from Mark McGuinness takes us through the fundamentals of protecting and sharing our intellectual property, recognizing and utilizing our many non-monetary assets, and knowing our self.

Lesson 17

Topic = Protect Your Work, Respect Their Work

Insights

…since ideas and their execution are the basis of your creative and commercial success, you can’t afford to be ignorant about intellectual property.

-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 18

Topic = Share!

Insights

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Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to keep their copyright while allowing certain uses of their work — a “some rights reserved” approach to copyright…

-from CreativeCommons.org/about

Lesson 19

Topic = We Have Many Assets

Insights

In a sense, all of the other currencies — including money — are designed to create more of this one. If you have money, a great reputation and network, valuable intellectual property, and control over your own time and attention, you’re in a great position to create new opportunities.

-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 20

Topic = Know Thyself

Insights

I can say with great conviction that the more we understand what makes us tick/hum/dance, how we approach and interact with the world, and what we do best, the greater our happiness and success will be.

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Pretty Inside

A few months ago, I had one of those strange encounters with a stranger. The uncomfortable kind of strange, not the pleasant. But it ended up being one of those experiences that helps me to see some of the positive growth that is happening in my life. Personal growth can be hard to detect because it’s generally subtle, and we don’t have the benefit of distance and space, which makes us more aware of changes. It’s similar to how when we see someone all the time, we don’t notice the little changes happening in them (physically, etc), but if we don’t see them for awhile, we do notice. Interactions with other people can provide a mirror that shows us how we are changing. But we need inner clarity in order to separate the thoughts/feelings/opinions of others, from the reality of our being.

So, I was out for a walk, taking a “breather” from computer time. It was a nice walk, at a brisk pace and on my way home, downtown, I passed a guy, just kind of hanging around on the sidewalk. I’m not sure if he tried to make eye contact because my eyes were focused forward – I was “in the zone” as I tend to be while walking. As I passed him, he said, “Pretty on the outside, ugly on the inside. That’s what you are.” I was a little surprised, and disappointed, of course, and said softly, to myself, “That’s not very nice.”

As I continued walking, I thought about it and let myself really feel it. The nice thing is that it didn’t have much of an effect. It didn’t feel nice – it never feels nice to have someone send negativity your way – but I didn’t really take it personally. I checked in with myself and was able to remind myself that even though I’m far from perfect (inside and out), I am trying and I do care. I strive each day to be kind and loving and the best creature of the Universe I can be. I am actively working to share my true gifts and natural talents and positively contribute, to make the world a happier and healthier place. With that as my central approach to life, I can’t be too bad. He doesn’t know me so how can he know my heart, my intentions? And even if he did, I need to remain focused on my inner sense of balance, peace, calm, clarity, strength, light, and…beauty.

Other’s Opinion Are Less Important Than My Personal Guidance System.
-Abraham-Hicks

Being steady at the center (which I cultivate through positive daily practices such as meditation, yoga, creating, etc), I may sway with the breezes/winds/storms around me (coming from the people and situations I encounter) but my base and core are solid and healthy. That’s how I felt and that’s a good feeling. Strength and Balance: the more we have, the more we can share!

Later that evening, J and Karin and I went out to Spirit Rock for the Monday night meditation gathering. It was a cold night and Karin and I made tea to bring with us. During break, we went into the lobby to have some of our warm tea and she and I both had a good laugh (I had told her about my earlier encounter) reading my Yogi Tea bag:

There is a beauty in your presence. Show who you are.

I don’t take such coincidences lightly anymore. It was a little dose of Universal love, in support of the personal growth glimpsed earlier, and I accepted it with gratitude.

Creative Pathfinder- Learnings, Weeks 13-16

I’m actually on Week 20 of the course, but catching up w/ my reviews. These four lessons are all about one of the most important aspects of your business: money – marketing, selling, negotiating, and managing. This is valuable guidance so Thank-You, as always, to Mark McGuinness for offering it.

Lesson 13
Topic = Marketing in the Web

Insights

If you don’t know why people should be paying attention to you, it’s hard to persuade them to do so.

-Mark McGuinness

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In order to get the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior online, you need to become an authority that others cite (link to) in their online content. Which means, of course, you need a content-rich website that demonstrates your authority in the first place.
-Brian Clark

Lesson 14
Topic = Selling, What and Why

Insights

…before you start worrying about products and services, benefits and features, offers and objections, stop and ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? Who am I here to help? What problem can I solve for them?”
-Mark McGuinness

What I am interested in/enjoy + What is meaningful + People/Problems needing help= My Purpose

What’s in it for them?
Why should they care?

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Ineffective/poor/unproductive/negative/lacking: communication and project management/coordination/facilitation

People not recognizing their personal power and ability to be holistically healthy and happy, not opening up and embracing their best and brightest potential.

Individuals/groups/orgs/teams/communities who will benefit from my communications/project management and personal empowerment assistance

Lesson 15
Topic = Negotiating Through Life

Insights

The key to a successful negotiation is to ferret out everyone’s interests so you can maximize the outcome for everyone. This is easier said than done, since most people hold their interests close to the vest, believing this gives them a stronger negotiating position. But oftentimes this strategy is misguided, because in actuality what you want might be right in line with what the other party wants.
-Tina Seelig

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Lesson 16
Topic = Healthy Cash Flow

Insights

Goals are the fundamental building blocks of success, not just in personal finance, but in every area of life. Without goals, you are living reactively, letting life push you around. With goals, you can live a proactive life, steering toward a destination. When you have an end in mind, it’s easier to see when you’ve made a wrong turn. You know where your path is supposed to lead.
-J.D. Roth

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Wednesday Eve Meditation – Removing the Layers

I had the pleasure of hearing Rick Hanson speak at Spirit Rock a few months back. It was an afternoon to honor volunteers and donors and he spoke about gratitude. I found his particular blend of spiritual development and understanding how the mind works interesting. And I also felt an affinity for the positive, calm, and light energy he puts forth. Visiting his website, I discovered he hosts a weekly meditation group in my home town. That was great news as I’ve been looking for a group that is closer, and more intimate, than Spirit Rock Monday nights. I love going out there and will definitely continue experiencing and learning there. But having a group I can participate in that is only a 5-10 minute drive (or a 10-15 minute walk) means less resistance. And the smaller size of Rick’s group is more conducive to getting to know people. The 1:1 sharing we do each week is a particularly nice way to connect with, and be of service to, others, and I know I will be writing more about those exchanges as their value is always tangible.

What I have begun to notice is that I feel better in the days after I attend and I miss its positive effects on the weeks I don’t attend. November and December have been challenging months for me, with some old and deeply embedded insecurities rearing their heads, demanding to be seen and reckoned with. So it was perfect timing for me to find the group. As it happens in life, when we are open and awake to it, what I needed found me!

When I am there, sitting in silence with the group, it is definitely a challenge to relax and Let Go, and especially to calm my mind down. But is is So worth the effort. I remind myself, every time I meditate, that even if I have just a minute or two, here and there, of being fully present, Awake and Aware, that is beautiful and that will have a profoundly positive effect on my life.

Because it is all about this moment. This is where Wisdom and Grace, Love and Potential are.

So, the moments I am able to connect with all of that, as fleeting as they may be, are full of power. That is what matters – the quality of the moment. There’s no need to worry about the quantity.

As with all practices, the more we do it, the more natural it becomes. It can still be challenging, and there may still be resistance to cut through, but once we are really Here again, it begins feeling familiar, like an old friend, a familiar place. And in that comfort we are able to begin taking off the layers of our Being – what we put on to go out into the world and protect ourselves from all that we fear. In Here, in this moment, as our True Self, it is warm and safe and so we don’t need all the layers. Taking them off is a slow and tentative process. The more we remove, the more naked and exposed we feel. But that is why it is so beautiful to do this as our personal practice. Because we know we are safe Here. We know it’s just our infinite self and our connection to the Universal Source of Goodness. When we are really present, we can begin to know our Self and feel that interconnection, and that knowing brings a feeling of safety. So let’s start Here, removing one layer at a time.

If you can imagine it, it is real. You are connected to what already exists.

-Rick Hanson

Creative Pathfinder – Learnings, Weeks 9-12

Four more weeks of learning about how to be a successful entrepreneur a la The Creative Pathfinder. These lessons hone in on: creating a portfolio/online presence, networking, and knowing your business.

Lesson 9
Topic = Your Portfolio/Body of Work/Online Presence

Insights

If you want to work as a writer, start writing and publishing. If you want to be a film-maker, make films. If you want to be a musician, make music. If you want to be a designer, design something and get it built. If you want to be a marketer, sell something or spread an idea that inspires action.

-Mark McGuinness

Natalie Goldberg says the same thing, over and over, about writing. And all the wise leaders on the life path say the same thing about being enlightened: do the practice, your meditation and the application of wisdom and guidance in daily life, each day, throughout your days – that is enlightenment.

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Lesson 10
Topic = Finding Your Tribe

Insights

Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people…

Seth Godin, ‘Tribes’ (via Creative Pathfinder)

Don’t forget what you can offer the other people you meet. Whatever your level of experience, you have knowledge, skills, experiences and contacts they don’t…Notice how you feel when you help someone in your network, connect two people who can help each other, or introduce someone new to the network (see Suzanna Stinnett’s Cloud Alchemy Manifesto.)

-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 11
Topic = Growing Your Network/Tribe

Insights

…if you’re doing something meaningful, original or remarkable, it will be much easier to grow your network…

-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 12
Topic = Uniquely Me

Insights

it’s an ongoing process of development – we are always evolving!

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What Do I Want to Grow?

One of the regular causes of suffering for me is neediness – needing attention, love, respect, and other gestures of affection from the people in my life. Though I understand this to be a cause of suffering, to some degree, for most people, I recognize it as one of my primary life lessons. I look back on my life and see that it has always been there – opportunity disguised as challenge. So much of my life has been spent focusing on what I need and want from others, from the world, and so little time/energy spent on what I am receiving (and what I can offer.) And therein lies the opportunity, a great one for sure: to shift the focus from needing and wanting to receiving gratefully and giving generously.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself feeling a bit “out of sorts” and was able to identify the primary cause of my unhappiness. Needing and wanting were occupying a big part of my mind, and heart, and really getting in the way of healthy, productive thinking/feeling/being/doing. I was able to clearly observe what was happening. It’s fairly new for me to understand, on a personal level, that we’ll never be truly happy when we’re focused on need and want. So, I celebrate that progress!

Once we are aware of the causes of our unhappiness/suffering, we can choose more positive approaches. Experimenting with the approaches we’ve learned about through our studies (external and internal), we begin to recognize what works best for us, which ways of thinking/feeling/being/doing bring happiness and health. From there it’s all about practice – practice, practice, practice.

“Just do the practice and all is coming.”

A favorite piece of guidance I received reading ‘Fully Fertile: A 12-Week Holistic Plan for Optimal Fertility’. It’s become a mantra I repeat regularly. Such simple wisdom – the best kind! By consciously shifting our thoughts/feelings/actions towards that which is positive and productive, we are doing the practice.

So a couple of weeks ago when I identified the main source of my unhappiness as needing and wanting, I remembered the lesson about how we get more of what we focus our energy and attention on – the Law of Attraction. It’s kind of like how when we give a plant water and nutrients, it grows and blooms. So the question we should ask ourselves, continuously, is,

“What do I want to grow?”

Whatever it is, feed that. That’s mindful focusing of our energy and attention. That’s conscious choice.

There’s no benefit to needing and wanting so that’s not something I want to feed. I made a conscious choice to shift my thinking/feeling towards the gifts I am given each moment. I thought about the people in my life, near and far, and all that they have shared and are sharing with me. I opened my heart to those offerings and the needing and wanting began to fade away. And into that open space came new gifts. I was receiving more of what I was focused on – the Law of Attraction at work!

The practice of Gratitude is very powerful. As we feed the gratitude tree, it grows healthy and strong. We see it’s fruit, flowers, shade and shelter more clearly and easily and, through our focused energy and attention, all of its best qualities multiply.

The abundance of life is there for us, all of us. It is there in the seeds which the winds of change blow and scatter on the soil of our life. When we tend to our soil, feeding and nurturing through our positive practices, those seeds take root and sprout, bloom and fruit.

Cloud Alchemy

Suzanna Stinnett’s ‘Cloud Alchemy: Manifesto for the Conscious Web Citizen’ came to me synchronistically the other day. Suzanna founded and runs Bay Area Bloggers Society (BABS) which I learned about through Meetup, a resource suggested in The Creative Pathfinder course (see my two previous posts on the course) for connecting with local people with similar interests. I visited her website to see what she’s up to and that brought me to her ‘Tribute to 9 Notable Innovators’. Guess who’s in the mix?: Mark McGuinness, the man behind The Creative Pathfinder. A circular synchronicity!

The Cloud Alchemy manifesto is a really powerful statement of intention for our rapidly evolving collective consciousness. And who should be mentioned in the second sentence but Peter Russell, who’s approach to being I had the privilege of experiencing at the Science and Nonduality conference a couple of weeks ago, and has continued to synchronize my life . If it wasn’t clear to me already, at this point I understood I should be Paying Attention!

A few of the many worthy points of the manifesto, resonated through my lens:

Recognize that you are an agent.

-Suzanna Stinnett

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And, if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

Martha Graham (from Daniel Brown’s course description in Esalen’s catalog)

Think collaboratively and use a reciprocal approach. Then ask yourself: What is the best way I can help the most people, right now? The answer to this question is your north star. Progress steadily towards it.

-Suzanna Stinnett

Suzanna’s work inspires me to do good work, and the words of another visionary activist come to mind:

Cooperation is a stronger evolutionary force than competition.

-Rob Brezsny

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