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This is a great explanation for the project I am working on right now… Looking at the reality that systems are living organisms and operate like living organisms. What can we thus learn from what we already know makes an organism healthy and vibrant? How can we apply that knowledge towards social organizing, action and innovation?

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Celebrating Mr. Clean, Celebrating Life’s Force


In case you’ve been following the story of my dad’s health, here’s the exciting update. He was photographed on Tuesday (cat scan). Technology peered into his body to articulate the progress of his recovery. The image that came back invites deep celebration as he is clean with no signs of cancer in the picture!! Yippee!!! Sweeth breaths of relief!!! For more details, hop on The P Train. For my own learnings and reflections, keep reading!

Leading up to yesterday, I felt the intense anticipation, fear and anxiety so many people were holding about yesterday’s doctor’s appointment… How much significance it had… The messenger delivering the verdict of my dad’s state of health… A defining moment when a specialist would read the results and share his prediction of the state of a man’s life. Each time I would feel into this scenario, I was struck with confusion. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Regardless of some person’s expertise, how can another human being have so much power and control to define how alive a person experiences themselves to be? How did we as humans get to a place where we allow other people to discern for us the quality of our life, the amount of hope that we should or shouldn’t have based on the data?

I have no idea what it’s like to be in such an incredibly vulnerable place where there is some unknown aggressor attacking my body and I am forced to join a fight that I wasn’t even aware was going on inside my very own skin. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to be a person who is told that I have cancer or some other life-threatening idea*. Should a day like that ever visit my life, I don’t know how I’ll respond.

Yesterday, however, being in this process with my dad, my family, people I love deeply and my own reactions, I learned some important lessons. I felt my dad’s life force. I felt the strength and power of the human life force. The current of creation, vibrancy, beauty, yes!, generative movement forward, LIFE. As I try to articulate that now, I feel the pulsing vibrancy in my own being. Wow, that’s magical… that we each have that, we each have access to something so sacred, so powerful, so uniquely our own and so universal to each of us.

I called my dad yesterday and extended an invitation to him that was something like this:

I invite you to take a moment before you get to the doctor’s office to connect with your life force. There is a force inside of you that is so alive. I can hear it in your voice. I can feel it in your writing. I imagine I’d see it in your eyes if I were there with you. You have a life force that is vibrant inside of you and will be there when you walk into the doctor’s office and will be there when you leave. I invite you to connect with that and stay connected with that, including whatever it is that the doctor shares with you. And no matter what anyone tells you, you are the only one that really knows what that life force feels like, how strong it is, how alive it is, how vibrantly it is moving through your body. No one can tell you about that… only you can connect with and know its presence and strength.

I thank the universe for the arrival of that message through me. For me, it is powerful and inspires me greatly. An invitation that I hope to really integrate into my own being and believing, further allowing me to share that vibrant radiance with myself, others and the world. What a gift that we each have!!

And then, after the doctor’s appointment, when my dad shared the news with me…. sweet tears of relief, bubbling with excitement. His life force gets to shine on with the medical world’s blessing of a clean cat scan. THANK YOU!!!

*As I was proofreading, I was shocked to read the word idea there as I didn’t consciously use it. I meant to use some thing like a life-threatening disease or condition. But I’m struck. Are these life-threatening diagnosis ideas? There is concrete fact and data that there is something going on inside the body… but the notion that it is life-threatening… is that an idea? Our life is always threatened just by the nature of being alive… hmmmm….

photo source

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Living with Radical Honesty

Living With Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton
Re-posted from Charity Focus

I learned that the primary cause of most human stress, the primary cause of most conflict between couples and the primary cause of most both psychological and physical illness is being trapped in your mind and removed from your experience. What keeps you trapped in your mind and removed from your experience is lying and we all lie […] all the time. We’re taught systematically to lie, to pretend, to maintain a pretense because we’re taught that who we are is our performance. Our schools teach us to lie, our parents teach us to lie. We’re all suffering from mistaken identity.

We think that who we are is our reputation, what the teacher thinks of us, what kind of grades we make, what kind of job we have. We’re constantly spinning our presentation of self, which is a constant process of lying and being trapped in the anticipation of imagining about what other people might think. Our actual identity is as a present tense noticing being. I’m someone sitting here talking on the telephone right now and you’re sitting there talking on the telephone and writing or doing whatever you’re doing. That’s your current identity and this is my current identity and when you start identifying with your current present-tense identity you discover all kinds of things about life that you can’t even see or notice when you’re trapped in the spin doctoring machine of your mind. So radical honesty is about delivering yourself from that constant worrisome preoccupation of, “Oh my god. How am I doing? How am I doing? How am I doing? How am I doing?” Then you can pay attention to what’s going on in your body and in the world and even pay attention to what’s going on in your mind. […]

Just look at what you notice in front of you right now, your environment, wherever you are in an office or wherever it is. Noticing is an entirely different function than thinking and what we do all the time is that we confuse thinking with noticing. When we think something we act as though it has the same validity as something that we see. I’ve got a bumper sticker on my truck that says, “Don’t believe everything you think.” It’s like your thinking just goes on and on and on and on.

–Brad Blanton, Center For Radical Honesty

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A Song Can Lessen the Fear

Sderot, Israel is near the boarder with Gaza and is a city that experienced (experiences?) a constant threat of Qassam rockets being fired into the city. When a rocket is spotted, there is a “Red Color” alert that is sounded warning people to take cover.

Residents of Sderot have about less than a minute to get to a place of safety when they hear the warning “Red Color” announcing an incoming rocket (spotted by those who watch for them). Hearing a Red Color causes panic in many, especially children. ~ Source

“Children experienced real developmental regressions, some began bedwetting,” she said. “They were getting hysterical when the alarm sounded – some freezing in place, unable to seek cover. One day I felt like ‘now is the time’ and I took this song I’d made up to a kindergarten class.” ~ Source

It is not hard to believe that repetitively experiencing alarming threats to one’s life from ‘out of the sky’ would cause trauma for children. The following video is an example of how one woman helped create change for many children. She could not change the threat of the rockets, but she found ways to shape the experience so that the children were not stripped of all of their power and understanding but could, instead, become active participants in the event. The song she created for the children to sing integrates EMDR therapy, somatic exercises and relaxation techniques to help the fear and tension of the warnings move through the children’s bodies, and hopefully freeing them from some of the terror.

I am very inspired by this video. I wonder, what simple ways can we each use in our lives and with those whose lives we touch to gently reshape the ways we experience something, decreasing the impact of fear and unknowing?

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Feeling Belonging and Warmth

“Just outside of Nairobi there is an elephant orphanage where elephant calves found in the wild without a mother are brought to and raised till they are old and big enough to survive in the wild and then they are released back into the wild. NOTE the blankets tied around them. This is done with the smaller calves to give them a ” Feeling of Belonging and warmth”. When they are older this is removed. They have about a dozen calves in different age brackets. these are some of the smallest as you can see by the man feeding them.” ~ Picture Taker 2

Those of you that know me in person know that I love hugs. I love to feel my body embraced with another human being, to feel the warmth and aliveness of life connecting with life, and to be an expression of appreciation and often love wrapped into form. As a preschool teacher my life was a daily waterfall of hugs. When I left that job I went through some real withdrawals as I realized/remembered that in my ‘normal’ life I don’t get the easily 40 hugs a day to which I had become accustomed. I transitioned from that job in 2002. I’ve acclimated to that change and yet I still have days where I can physically feel the effects of not having had enough human contact, physical touch. My cells long for it. Closeness. Belonging. Warmth. Touch.

Am I looking for proof that I’m alive? Am I looking for assurance that I’m lovable? Am I looking for belonging and warmth to hold me? Am I looking for a safe place to rest? Do I need to open more fully, receive more wholly?

Who is it inside of me that needs the hugs and contact? How old is that part of me? Six perhaps? A bundle of joy, running around, sharing love and wanting to be loved? Wanting to know that I’m good enough in this form of being that I’m inhabiting and wanting to see and, more importantly, feel confirmation and reflection in embodied forms.

Mark Jones invites us all into a HSL (hizzle) experiment where in every interaction, one Hears, Sees and Loves everyone – including yourself.

Some questions I’m holding (and I’d love to hear from anyone interested in sharing): How do you hizzle with your body? How do you reach out and touch someone? How do you reach out and embrace yourself? How free do you feel to allow touch and contact to move fluidly as a form of expression? Are you inhibited by cultural norms, gender roles or personal insecurities?

And the next layer of my personal inquiry, In what ways do you feel belonging and warmth that transcends touch? How do you recognize existential belonging and spritual warmth?

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Brain Functioning and Body Awareness

I’m currently reading The Mindful Brain by Daniel Siegel. Last night I was reading about the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. I’ll share what I learned with you in case you’re curious and then below are some fo my morning reflections.

Right hemisphere functions

  • better at seeing context and the whole picture
  • holistic
  • nonverbal
  • visuospacial
  • integrated map of the whole body
  • autobiographical memory
  • raw, spontaneous emotion
  • initial empathic nonverbal response
  • stress modulation
  • mediate distress and uncomfortable emotions
  • nonverbal imagery
  • somatic sensations

Left hemisphere functions

  • linguistics
  • linearity
  • logic
  • literal thinking
  • detail oriented, detail monitoring
  • in-depth
  • analytic
  • problem focused
  • fact accumulating process
  • mediate positive affective emotions
  • conceptual facts

According to Siegel, creativity is the integration of the functions of the two hemispheres.

“With the left and right hemisphere physically separated and functionally differentiated, we have the opportunity to achieve more adaptive function if we come to integrate them into a whole. This is how, I believe, creativity emerges not from one side or another, but from their integration.”

At them moment I’m curious about the interplay between my “integrated map of the whole body” and “in depth, analytic, problem focused” awareness.

From this morning’s writing: As I sense into my body right now, my attention goes to all of the places that ‘aren’t right‘. The soreness of my neck and back from sleeping with a pillow that’s too big, blemishes on my face that I don’t know how they’re forming (and it concerns me that they are), etc. As I listen deeper, I feel other areas of my body, but without judgment. I notice strongly the areas that are not in balance but I don’t seem to register with emphasis the areas that are in balance. So I wonder:

How do I invite my attention to notice and feel the places that are alive, fluid, healthy?
What does aliveness feel like in moments within my self?”

I would love to hear any personal stories that you have to share on this:
What is your sensing feeling of your body like?
Do you notice patterns around what you do or don’t register in your body?
How do you recognize health, wellness, aliveness, clarity, congruency within your self?
Is it different on the physical plane than in emotional, spiritual, social, or intellectual realms?

Thanks… curious as ever….

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