Learning to Ride

It’s freezing. All I know is it’s 11 miles out and back. The description on the website had said, “Participants must be in good cardiovascular condition. No single track/technical work. Climbing for sure.” I should have known when I saw the fat tires on everyone else’s bikes.

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Oh, how we wish that learning would take place in the comfort of our familiar homes! A cozy blanket, a warm cup of tea, our favorite music playing, and the knowing that everything as we have chosen and arranged it now surrounds us.

Learning for me always looked like showing up in a classroom, or privately in front of a teacher, and demonstrating what I knew. I would then get feedback in the form of a critique, the next challenge chosen by the teacher, or a score on a test that told me how much what I thought I learned matched what I was expected to have learned.

What I learned on my first mountain bike ride this weekend is that learning – the fresh, raw experience of aha!wow! that’s new! – can be extremely uncomfortable. It can happen when we are placed (or we find ourselves) in a situation we did not know we chose (but we did) and that every fiber of our being is wanting to fix, alter, escape, or resist. But there we are. In my case, “there” was a guided 11-mile ride on a closed access trail. Turning back was not an option without taking the entire group with me.

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There are questions, but none worth asking, because any answer provided verbally in advance would not actually provide helpful information. I could only get answers in the act of experiencing it. How steep are the hills? How will my bike hold up? Am I dressed warmly enough? What gears should I use? Am I in good enough shape for this?

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I find out the answers to each of them as I encounter the first climb, and then the first big downhill. The first of many. Each one a little longer, a little steeper. They keep coming. My lungs are burning. My ears are burning from the freezing cold air. I am miserable, I am cursing my bike for not being a “mountain” bike, only a hybrid. I excuse myself from having to keep up with the group because of this. I don’t want anyone to talk to me. I just want to breathe without the burning in my lungs.

At one point I am hurtling down a steep hill. My tires slip a little, causing me to bounce and weave, and instead of trying to take control, I decide to just let the bike do its job. I had no ability – defined as knowledge through experience – to control the bike or determine whether I would even stay on it. Slamming on (or squeezing) the brakes was not going to guarantee any safe outcome. I briefly flash back to skiing, where I’d always tried to slow myself down at the steepest parts, and it wasn’t always the best way – it was resisting the flow down the mountain, and it took a lot of effort to go against gravity.

I see now that I was lucky not to have fallen. But in that moment I had no concept of “luck” or “no luck”. It just wasn’t my day to fall. I let go, and it was my day to witness that miracle.

I keep going only because no one really asks me if I want to stop. I cycle through struggle, resistance, surrender, and then surviving.

The top is finally in sight.

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I take a rest, at the turnaround point, and just breathe. It feels good to cover my entire face and breathe normally. Now I really have no choice other than to go back along the trail the same way we came.

Covering every surface of my face feels best.

I become curious, and begin to play. That’s when the true experience of learning begins to happen.

What could I try to do differently to see if it will make my experience any different?

I stop telling myself I have the “wrong” bike and start playing with adjustments. I raise the seat up. That one small move helps a lot.

My mind so wants a binary “how to” on the gears. A set of instructions like, “When going downhill, do this….When going uphill, do that.” But it isn’t that linear. Every hill is slightly different. My ingoing speed determines which gear would match it best when coming out of the hill. I have to play. Constantly engage with what is happening in this very moment, and be open to discovering.

Riding back.

I discover an elaborate, moment-to-moment dance of body, bike, and terrain. Tweaking. Feeling. Being ever present and also facing forward, constantly moving. Listening. Discovering. Adjusting by taking small actions.

During the second half of the ride I am much more friendly with my bike, my body, and the terrain. I am much more involved as a full participant, doing my part of the three-way equation, not trying to resist or control the other elements. I am having (slightly) more fun along the way.

At the end, I feel tired but glad. My body is very grateful for the opportunity to play and be worked. Discovering new possibilities and dancing within the situation, I realized there was only the choice of the moment – to ride it or to stew in a story of misery. I chose to ride.

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E-Squared Book Club: Week 6

At this week's E-Squared Book Club we discussed the last two chapters. I was sad to get to the end of the book because it’s been so much fun to do these experiments and share what’s happening each week with the club and on the blog. Once again, the weather at Quarry Park was spectacular – warm and sunshine-filled.

Bathed in sunshine.

Oneness - We Are All Connected

Experiment #8, the 101 Dalmatians Principle, is about how we really are all connected. That every particle in the universe is in instantaneous communication with every other particle. Wow!

I happened to stumble upon the movie Cloud Atlas this past weekend (coincidence? Or synchronicity?), which addresses this principle in beautiful movie-making splendor.

According to this principle, every thought we have alters the entire universe forever. Imagine that! The other big idea is: Your thoughts about other people change YOU. How you see others is how you will see yourself. This makes forgiveness and kindness and compassion make sense at the level of the universe. It’s not about doing the “right” thing according to a rulebook or moral code. It’s about observing and choosing what you create in your own reality each time you think a thought about someone else.

Shirley had a GREAT story about this experiment from the morning of our meeting. Instead of blurting out her normal string of requests and judgments toward a person in her life, she paused and silently sent a message through the FP to that person. She got quiet and still and asked clearly and kindly that this person take action.

Within minutes, she received a phone call from that person reporting that he was completing the actions she requested.

What I LOVE about this story is that in the moment she stopped herself from “yelling” and connected her thoughts silently to the FP, Shirley was giving to herself what she so desperately wanted from the other person. And then she got it.

Pretty magical…or (as I like to say now)...exactly the way the universe works.

Shirley in her stillness.

Abundance and Enoughness

Experiment #9, the Fishes and Loaves Principle, was about “enoughness” and finding the goodness and beauty that is already everywhere all the time.

I love Pam’s discussion of how our society's mantra seems to be, “There’s not enough”, and we hold on to this thought because we believe we need it in order to motivate us to do anything at all. If we were completely content with how things are, then what would we do with our lives? Or so the thought goes.

But have we ever really paused to live the experiment? What IF we tried being appreciative of every single thing we already have right now, and kept repeating that moment to moment? What IF we saw our worlds through that lens of everything already being “enough”?

Most of us are too afraid to try.

It reminds me of an article I wrote on the Breema principle of No Extra. On the free Q&A call for that month, I asked people what came up for them around the idea of “No Extra”, and one of my clients said, “I worry that it means there won’t be enough. No Extra means there's not enough.”

Isn’t it fascinating how solidly we are rooted in the concept of “not enough”? So much so that we can’t hear the real meaning of “No Extra” which is actually EXACTLY enough. Not too much, and not too little. I once heard that Mother Teresa’s multimillion dollar charity always operated on enough. No extra, but exactly enough.

Based on everything I’ve learned from these experiments, I see that “enough” is not an amount or quantity. “Enough” is a lens. When we choose to see through the lens of “enough”, that is what we will find in our lives. And when we choose to see through the lens of “not enough”, we will also find that.

It Doesn't Have To Be Hard

Tammy wands

Tammy shared a story from this week, that she sees as a result from Experiment #1, started six weeks ago. At that time she felt she had received a sign from the FP that it was time to be recognized at a higher level and submit her portfolio review for a magazine. She had a grumbly feeling about doing the submission, but really wanted to be seen in a respected magazine. She walked away from that first meeting saying, “OK, universe, if you say so, I guess I’ll have to submit my portfolio if I want to get shown. Even though I really don’t want to do the submission.”

Tammy says she recalls me saying, apparently very calmly, “What if you can get the recognition you want from the magazine without having to do the submission?”.

She rolled her eyes inside because she held the thought, “Yeah, right. Nothing ever just happens like that. You’ve got to buy the lottery ticket if you want to win the lottery. Just like I’ve got to do the submission if I want my work to be recognized.”

Fast forward six weeks, and she finds herself being asked to show her work in San Francisco, in a beautiful sacred venue, to an audience who will likely include prospective clients. The more pieces she gives, the more they ask for. And she never had to go through a portfolio review! The opportunity and invitation to show just came to her.

I loved hearing the opening in Tammy’s voice as she described, with a bit of awe and wonder, how maybe – just maybe - this all really did just come to her.

Another update from Experiment #1: Pianos Pianos Everywhere!

Remember Shirley's request from Experiment #1? She wanted a piano to play. She didn't want to own one. She just wanted a place to go and play when she wanted to, and be heard by others if they wanted to.

Two possibilities came immediately into our circle in the form of pianos we knew to be available.

Shirley's big learning was about the need to show up and take actions to meet the blessings that are coming her way. She did that TWICE during the E-Squared Book Club, both related to pianos.

Last Sunday, I happened to be out for breakfast at Cafe Classique, and there she was, sitting at the piano playing ragtime. Dreams do come true. You have to call it in by asking, then be brave and take action to go meet your dream! Yay, Shirley! You inspired me and many others.

Shirley plays the piano at Cafe Classique, El Granada.

Shirley at the piano, Cafe Classique, El Granada.

The Radiance of Self-Love

Finally, we played with the wands, and captured some video for you. In this clip, watch as I consciously send love to each and every corner of my life as it is right now - not just the parts I 'like" but all parts that I may have hidden, judged, or cast aside as "not good enough right now". My energy field expands and the wands open like butterfly wings.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/i9IS8367aj8]

Here's a quick clip of Tammy silently asking a question of the wands. First you see a "yes" and then a "no" with her second question. Tammy is very connected to the wands and her energy shows up very clearly and immediately.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Dj-Y5OP9XmY]

Onward and upward! Bringing experiments into daily life

Our project over the next week is to design our own energy experiments for the holidays and end of the year. What one or two experiments would you like to run in your own life? You can base the experiment on one of the nine experiments in the book, or you can come up with your own completely original ones.

I’m looking forward to hearing what we all come up with…and sharing our results right here!

P.S. Here's an update on my sunflower seed sprouts, two weeks after planting:

Sunflower sprouts - Day 14

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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

E-Squared Book Club: Week 4

Shirley plays with magic wands as Tammy witnesses. It was a foggy, misty morning, but just before 10 o'clock, the sun began to shine.

We gathered to discuss Experiment #5 - the Dear Abby Principle. This states that we each have unlimited access to a constant source of inner guidance from the FP.

Pam talks mostly about the distinction between our conscious mind (logical, rational brain) and inner guidance. Too often we get the two confused, and we use our conscious thoughts as guidance. Oops!

The conscious mind has these important functions:

  • identifying problems
  • formulating goals
  • making judgments
  • comparing current experience to past experience
  • interpreting results and building models

However, it's not the source of guidance when you "don't know" what to do, or when you want to take a step toward a vision you want to create.

I'm curious: what forms has YOUR inner guidance come in?

For me, it's been learning to listen to my own body. My "temple of truth", as I call it. I used to use my mind to drive my body like it was my workhorse. Now I am more tender, more astute at listening, and take the time to honor what my body is communicating at all times. I am learning.

Others in the group described their inner guidance as "intuition", "gut reaction", "knowingness", a feeling, a sound or word, an image that appears.

No matter what your inner guidance looks, sounds, or feels like, it's about your relationship with it. Getting to know it so you can begin to trust it.

Shirley shared the results of Experiment #3. She asked for a piano to appear in her life. It was offered immediately and sincerely. She observed for over a week before she became clear that all she had to do was ACCEPT the offer. To SHOW UP and take the steps of receiving. WOW. That was a big one! It's always available, and sometimes it's right in front of us, but we have to be willing to walk toward it. Thank you, Shirley!

Tammy got a crystal clear answer to her question, "Should I get a new door, or repair the old one?". Now it's a matter of walking toward that answer.

We also tried the magic wands again (yes, we LOVE them! We'll even try them with strangers who wander into the clearing and wonder what we're doing there.). Tammy brought another question to the wands, one where the answer she had received was not quite lining up with the feelings she was getting in her body. The wands gave her crystal clarity.

Finally, we were gifted with the raw materials for our next Experiment #6! We each received a packet of sunflower seeds and some soil from Tammy's garden. I planted my seeds last night, and it's just amazing how much faster one row is already growing compared to the other! :)

Tammy presents

I wanted to share the recording of the evening phone meeting. It is one hour and fifteen minutes, unedited. There is some great discussion and sharing from Danielle as we talk about letting go of the "how", how to get clear on an intention, and practicing. Here is the link. Enjoy!

Next week, we talk about the next TWO chapters - Experiments #6 (the great seed race) and #7 (what happens when you infuse your food with love?).

You can join the E-Squared Book Club anytime until November 20th. And if you've been reading the book, please share your stories in the comments!

Falling Down To Earth...Lessons from "Gravity"

gravity I saw Gravity this weekend. It was date night. Since we normally watch movies on Netflix in the luxury of our own living room, with the sunset and ocean behind our backs and the fire roaring in the fireplace, the trip through traffic and the ordeal of finding a parking space in a shopping mall made me expect a lot from this one.

We decided to splurge on the 3-D version. We got a big bag of popcorn, and settled into the theater, which we had mostly to ourselves.

I was already filled with gratitude for my life on the coast after we set foot inside the neon shopping mall that contained the movie theater. At that moment, seeing the names of the food court vendors – none of which were familiar to me, feeling the fluorescence of everything, squinting at the brightness of the SALE signs in every store window, hearing the echoes and reverberation of the cavernous container of the space, I realized how long it had been since I’d shopped in a mall. When had that shifted? I recalled a time in my childhood when the only place to shop for clothes and shoes was the mall. It was also one of the main “hangouts” for kids who went out after school (of which I was not one).

I won’t talk too much about plot points here, but I want to list several of the “messages from the universe” that I feel are embedded in the movie. I’ll scramble them up so as not to have to give too much of a spoiler alert. But if you must see the movie first, I’ll warn you that I refer to some scenes in the text below.

1. We’re hurtling at light speed toward our destiny at all times.

2. There are two ways to go through our brief moment of time called life – light and floating and free, with laughter, presence, and acceptance, or tethered, struggling, thinking hard, constantly driving somewhere, not knowing where in particular.

3. As unlikely and miraculous as it was for the protagonist to arrive back to earth, her journey is a metaphor for the set of unlikely circumstances that collide to create any individual life on earth, and both are equally miraculous.

4. There are two ways to meet our inevitable demise of death – in awe and wonder, with a light heart, and fully present, or with fear and regret. The way you die is the way you live. Start living.

5. To continue living, you must continuously jettison the parts that no longer serve you. Even though at one time in the past they were essential to your survival, these parts can be exactly what’s holding you back right now. Keep letting go.

6. Sometimes you find yourself on the end of a tether, getting whipped around, believing you’ve been rescued or saved. While you’re technically alive, the ride may feel nauseating, and you’re never permanently protected by what’s on the other end of the tether.

7. Use what you have, do what’s in front of you, remember what you know, and start from where you are.

8. Be grateful for your mind, and remember to use it to serve your heart’s desires, not replace them.

9. Everything can be blown to bits, and you can be one of those bits. You can experience your own rebirth by falling back down from (your head) space into the watery womb of mother earth. You can dive deep, find air, reach land, express gratitude, and then finally find your own legs. This is the story of human evolution…from star stuff to dirt, that’s what we all are: miracles.

10. Sometimes we need to journey far, far away in order to find our way back home.