E-Squared Book Club: Week 5

This week we discussed Experiments #6 (The Superhero Principle) and #7 (The Jenny Craig Principle). Both principles relate to the ability of our thoughts to impact physical matter in the material world. First we discussed the results of the seed experiment. As you may recall, Tammy gifted us with sunflower seeds from her studio garden, along with a little bag of soil. It was such a beautiful gift! I went home and planted my seeds that night.

As I tossed them into the soil playfully, I said, "Isn't it AMAZING that this one row of seeds is already growing faster than the other row?? I'm AMAZED!". At that point, of course, they were "just" dry seeds going into soil, sitting on my kitchen table. Nothing had happened yet. Except my thought and feeling of ALREADY being amazed at their growth.

Two days later, I was truly amazed to see sprouts beginning to show. I literally thought nothing about these seeds other than the feeling of amazement that they were already growing faster.

Nov 3 seeds

I added a few drops of water to the carton every couple of days, and regardless of what I saw with my eyes, I commented, "Isn't it AMAZING that this row of seeds is growing so much faster than the other row! I am AMAZED!". I didn't say, "I can't believe it!", or "I can't explain it!". I just held the amazement.

Nov 5 seeds Nov 6 seeds Nov 7 seeds


And they continue to grow and amaze me, every single day!

A couple of notes on this experiment for me: I have absolutely NO expectation about me and growing things. I'm not exactly a "green thumb" and haven't had a major draw to grow plants before. I think because of this, I was able to be truly open and playful. I had nothing to prove and everything would be a surprise for me coming from these seeds.

Tammy planted her seeds one day after mine and they had not sprouted at the time of our meeting yesterday. She had placed them with loving care in a special spot at her studio, and every day as she watered them, she waved her hand over them to transmit loving and encouraging energy to the seeds. She talked to them, using the energy of her words to support their growth.

Why were our results different?

We talked about the difference in energy between "wanting" something to happen and "believing" it is already happening. When you send an energy of "want", the result remains in the future. You receive what you asked for, which is continuous wanting. When you believe that something IS, and carry that energy regardless of the "results" you can see with your eyes right now, you support the essence of life that wants to thrive, grow, and come into being.

We demonstrated this with the Push Together-Pull Apart experiment, which I learned from my life coaching mentor, Martha Beck. It goes like this (and is discussed in Martha's latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World):

1. Have a partner stand with their arms bent, hands in front of their body, with palms facing in (as if they are about to clap).

2. Tell them not to let you push their hands together, as you press on the tops of their hands as hard as you can. Fill your thoughts with effort, pushing, and domination as you do this.

3. Now, do the same thing, except this time hold in your mind thoughts of joy and love, or a time in your life when you felt utterly at peace. Don't think about the other person, just hold these thoughts and allow them to spread throughout your entire being. Now just put your palms on the backs of your partner's hands and move your own hands together.

Shirley and I play with the energy of struggle versus oneness.

Experiment #7 was about our food being the carrier of our thoughts' energy into our bodies. Since I don't own a scale, I did this experiment by measuring how I feel in my body when I take the time to taste my food completely. If I'm talking while I eat, this is more difficult to practice. This is when I often lose track of what I'm feeling, and just keep putting food in my mouth until the plate is clean.

For those of you who would like to lose a few pounds, I'm curious what your results are after trying Pam's advice. Notice any negative thoughts you have toward your own body. Let them go and replace them with thoughts that praise your body for the way it already is. Take a moment to bring your thoughts into a state of peace, love, and joy, before you eat your food. And see what happens!

At Quarry Park, the sun continued to shine on us, and it was an unseasonably warm day.

We are open to possibilities!

Shirley in the sun Tammy open arms

Later in the afternoon, we all attended a monthly gathering of Art and Inspiration hosted by Amy Sullivan. Tammy painted a "butterfly brain" image inspired by the E-Squared Book Club.

Tammy painting

Shirley made a collage of cats and flowers and castles and circles.

Shirley collage

And I played with my new acrylic gel mediums. FUN! Art and Inspiration paintingI drew the "Joy" card from the Soul Coaching deck. Its message was to remember that my soul's purpose is simple - to experience joy. And to share this and its healing qualities with the world.

It has been my joy to create this book club and to experience the discoveries together in a circle.

Next week, we discuss the last two chapters, Experiments #8 and #9. In our final week, we will design our own experiments for the holiday season and end of year.

To listen to a brief (17-minute) recording from the phone meeting, click here.

As always, please feel free to share your stories in the comments!






Essential Self Extravaganza

[singlepic id=391 w=320 h=240 float=center] As 2010 came to a close, I realized that over the past year, I have had the opportunity to become part of three brand new communities (without even changing my physical address). As I embarked on life coach training, certification in music and sound healing, and improvisation as a violinist in the local “open mic” scene, I was welcomed into three totally new worlds for me.

As I crisscrossed the Bay Area and the internet interacting with these distinct groups, it occurred to me that no single place brought together people with such wide-ranging interests. What fun it would be if someone could create a space and purpose for gathering that would allow the expression and sharing of all these creative souls! I realized that I could be that person!

I was inspired to create the Essential Self Extravaganza. The name refers to a central concept of Martha Beck's life coaching approach, which guides us to find and follow the voice of our essential self, versus the social self we so readily construct as an identity to show the world and "fit in" with the rules of our families, religions, cultures, professional group, or demographic.

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I had had enough of the typical "holiday party", where the focus is on the display of our social selves. The typical conversations starting with the question, "So, what do you do?" or "Where are you from?" were familiar to me, yet no longer of interest. Instead of complaining or lamenting about these kinds of parties, I decided (in the empowerment I am growing into) to host my own gathering - the kind of party I would want to attend myself.

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That set my imagination free, and, as is always the case when I open up to trust my own creativity, it flowed effortlessly. I immediately formed a picture in my mind of how the day would be presented, who I would invite, and what I would say in the invitation. I sent out personal invitations (no e-vite or Facebook event for this one). I hand-selected the people I wanted to include. I expressed myself from MY essential self.

And what unfolded on December 17, 2010, was perfect in the way that the universe is always divinely perfect and complete.

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The gift of video is the ability to capture some of the magic that happened and share bits of it with you here. When you have some time, grab a cup of tea and enjoy these amazing offerings from the generosity of the spirit. Soulful Songstress Aletha McGee offers an impromptu song during a break:

Artist and Vocalist Jovani McArdle creates a song for me, inspired by a hand-painted card I chose from her collection:

Poet Loc Tran performs his piece, "Enough":

Writer and Actress Sarah Lau performs a scene from her one-woman show, "Remedial Girl":

Cellist and Designer Chi Chen performs an original composition based on J.S. Bach's canonic cello suites:

Performance artist Deborah Eliezer creates the character Fifi, who offers a song and dance:

Randy Bales and I lead the room in a participatory version of The Beatles' "Across The Universe":

And the final free improvisation, involving everyone in the room...AMAZING! Take a listen:

It reminded me of the first principle of Open Space Technology: "Whoever comes are the right people." Once I sent out invitations, I released my need to know who was coming, or to interpret why certain people weren't. I released any guilt about not inviting certain people out of fear of offending them. I simply stood in my own love and desire to share what is deeply true for me with a group of other souls who I knew would have much to share in a free, open setting.

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The only "structure" I put around the day was the written invitation. Three blocks of time of two hours each were designated for the three types of activities I envisioned sharing: life coaching, music healing, and performances by local open mic artists.

The rest I left open to the perfect unfolding when the right people gather in the right time for them. This reminded me of the third principle of Open Space Technology: "Whatever happens is the only thing that could have."

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It required a trust, which I have been training and growing over the past year, that I did not have to tell people what to do, and that I did not have to know the answer all the time, and that there is absolute beauty in not needing to know.

I felt the profound magic of gathering in sound - the wordlessness of shared energy, the oneness of harmonious voices, the collective, improvisational creation of music in the present moment. I also saw the inspiration that happens when bridges are built, between people whose paths may not have intersected otherwise.

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I have always felt that one of my purposes in life was to be a bridge - a translator of sorts between the various different worlds I have inhabited. The event reinforced that image for me.

I was able to relax and enjoy something I created. (This was nearly a first for me)

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In observing myself prepare for the event and decorate the room, I learned about my own capacity to "overdo" and about the fine line between abundance and excess.

I practiced observing myself with gentleness, allowing myself to receive the information I was gathering without labeling it or criticizing myself in the process.

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Afterwards, I honored myself with rest.

I was surprised and delighted by so many moments that unfolded without my knowing or needing to know. I was simply a witness, wide-eyed, curious, receptive. I released my need to control what was happening, when it was happening, and whether people were having the kind of enjoyment I thought they needed to have.

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I wrote this post as a way to remember the perfect unfolding when we are allowed to be free and to share from what is essential within each of us. May you experience the trust and the unfolding of your own spirit in 2011!

To see more photos from the Essential Self Extravaganza: Visit the Facebook album

To see more videos from the Essential Self Extravaganza: Visit the YouTube playlist

Watch my interview on KMVT-15 King's Connections - Remarkable Young Women Series with Rusty King

I had the pleasure and honor of being Rusty King's guest #3 on the Remarkable Young Women Series of King's Connections, on channel KMVT-15 in Mountain View. I met Rusty at a Mountain View Chamber of Commerce event, and we immediately connected on the subject of being musicians. Rusty is an award-winning songwriter and drummer, in addition to hosting his own show on KMVT-15.

Thanks to Rusty's thorough research, in this half-hour interview we talk about my entire life, from my childhood in Libertyville, Illinois, through the launch of Chinese Melodrama just a few months ago. Watching it is like taking the "heroine's journey" all over again. It reminds me how this past year of my life, 2010, has been such a rapid whirlwind in some respects, while at the same time being some of the most spacious time I've ever experienced.

Rusty and I discuss education, success, parental expectations, music, creativity, failure, and the necessity of following your own heart. Enjoy!


Is living really as simple as being open to change?

"Truth is living, and therefore, changing." - Bruce Lee

I read that the other day and it shifted my thinking. It hit me like the ring of truth. Could it really be that simple? That living is simply changing? I recalled that the first piece of information that drew me into the field of life coaching was Martha Beck's Change Cycle. It was simple, yet no one had ever presented life as a cycle of change - meaning a continuous circular flow, not a straight line pointing in one direction.

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I also loved the image of caterpillar turning into butterfly. I had read Trina Paulus' little yellow book, Hope For the Flowers, many times over the past fifteen years, and it always resonated with me as the truth. That within each of us, when we are born, is the potential to transform, to fly, to be beautiful. That it also takes a single act of courage on each person's part, at some point in their caterpillar life, in order to make that transformation possible. Here's an excerpt, paraphrased from Trina Paulus' book:

"How does one become a butterfly?" asked the caterpillar.

"You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."

"You mean to die?" asked the caterpillar.

"Yes and No...Life is changed, not taken away. Isn't that different from those who die without ever becoming butterflies?"

So isn't it interesting that our minds resist change.

Our bodies crave change and movement, but our minds crave solidity. Changing my mind used to be something I considered almost a crime. I stood by commitments with such fierce resolve that I could override most of the signals sent by my body. This made me great at staying up for 36 hours straight on call in the hospital, sitting in a desk for as long as it took to crank out a spreadsheet that satisfied my bosses in the financial world, and doing whatever it took to produce what I considered "perfection" in my violin students.

It did not, however, serve me well in bringing me happiness in my life, or a sense of peace in my heart. It did not help me notice the small things, acknowledge myself for tiny gains, or cut other people any slack when it came to honoring their differences or shortcomings.

The ability to adapt and change, to die many deaths within one lifetime, to flow with the current of our highest self and deepest truth, is simple, yet requires practice in order to become habit.

Today I am thankful for being more familiar with my own internal feelings of peace, joy and freedom than I was even a few months ago. Every day I grow in this capacity to recognize and rest in these feelings in my body. They are part of me now, and they have been waiting for me patiently my whole life. It was just up to me to learn how to access them.

So, ask yourself this: Have you changed your mind lately?

Give yourself a gift and try it today.

Revolutionizing Medicine…One Belief At A Time - Part 1

If you have behaved yourself into a situation, you must behave yourself out of it! The behavior in this case is the behavior of the mind. As a physician, you went through systematic training of the mind to get you to believe certain thoughts. When was the last time you questioned one of these thoughts?

Learning that the mind's natural tendency is to attach to certain thoughts and believe them; and observing that the root of all painful, stressful feelings is believing certain thoughts, was revolutionary for me. I uncovered a system of thoughts that I believed without question, and realized that I already had all the freedom I was longing for. I simply had to question my thoughts.

To show you how this process works, it's best to use real examples.

Each week I’m going to take a stressful thought that is central to the physician’s belief system, and question it. Follow along, and even listen in on the audio podcast as you do your own work on the same thought.


*This process is based on The Work of Byron Katie. For more information, visit www.thework.com.

A list of physicians’ common stressful thoughts:

“I need to take care of patients.”

“I am surrounded by illness, suffering, and death.”

“Patients demand my time.”

“People need me to respond.”

“I need to fill out paperwork.”

“There is too much paperwork.”

“My job is stressful.”

“Medicine is a stressful profession.”

“I don’t have enough time.”

“I have too many patients.”

“I am responsible for my patients.”

“I am responsible for keeping my patients healthy.”

“I am responsible for alleviating my patients’ pain and suffering.”

“I can’t make a mistake.”

“I need to do the right thing.”

“I work too many hours.”

“I don’t get paid enough.”

“I don’t get enough respect.”

“I need to be more efficient.”

“I already paid my dues.”

“I sacrificed myself to become a doctor.”

“I’m dealing with life or death issues.”

“This is more than just a job.”

“I need to find meaning in my job.”

“I’m too busy.”

“It’s not worth it.”

“I trained all those years to be able to do my job.”

“I’ve worked so hard already.”

“I can’t give up my job.”

“I need to put my training to good use.”

“I need to put the patient first.”

“My needs are secondary to the patient’s.”

“The system needs an overhaul.”

“I am a doctor.”

Can you come up with any more, based on your own experience?

Make your own list, and follow along as I question each of these thoughts.

Today's thought: "I need to take care of my patients."

The questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you know that it is absolutely, 100% true?
  3. How do you react, and how do you behave, when you believe the thought, "I need to take care of my patients"?
  4. What is the payoff you get for believing the thought, "I need to take care of my patients"?
  5. What are you afraid might happen if you didn't believe the thought, "I need to take care of my patients"?
  6. Who would you be, and how would you behave, if you didn't believe the thought, "I need to take care of my patients"?

Now turn the thought around, as I have done below. Find three genuine examples in your life for how each of these new thoughts is as true as the original thought.

  • "I don't need to take care of my patients."
    • Examples:
    • Some common complaints and illnesses (upper respiratory infections) resolve themselves on their own.
    • There are some issues impacting a patient's health that cannot be solved by a doctor's intervention.
    • I can choose not to be a doctor practicing clinical medicine and taking care of patients.
  • "My patients need to take care of themselves."
    • Behavior changes such as exercise, smoking cessation, and diet are examples of how patients can take care of themselves.
    • Giving patients the tools and information to take better care of themselves is a recognized need in improving health care.
    • Patients can improve communication with their doctors by being more informed and asking the right questions.
  • "I need to take care of myself."
    • As a doctor, I am a model of health to my patients.
    • If I am tired and depleted, I have limited capacity to take care of another person.
    • The way I lead my life sends a powerful message to my patients, to my family, and to other doctors.

Take the time to find examples that feel genuine to you, and that come from your own life.

Notice where you are facing resistance to this process, and when your mind wants to "speed up" rather than find the examples.