Image Image Image Image Image

April, 2013 | Lifestyle Integrity




How to Be Creative

the emergence at cosm

Do you consider yourself to be creative? Do you have a strong critical mind? What connection do you think there is between these two? Which has your education helped develop? Which does the world need you to have more of right now?

Reading the first chapter of the book Presence today I came across the words of Stanford business school professor Michael Ray. Mr. Ray teaches very popular courses on creativity. His courses start with three assumptions:

  1. Creativity is essential for health, happiness and success in all areas of life, including business.
  2. Creativity is within everyone
  3. Even though it is in everyone it is covered by the Voice of Judgement

I couldn’t help but be reminded of the work of Ken Robinson. Sir. Robinson has written some wonderful books on creativity, the modern education system and finding your purpose or “element”. I wrote about “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” earlier in one of my posts on FLOW. In his previous book “Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative” Robinson raises the very pressing possibility that “we are educating people out of their creativity.”

In an article on the Huffington Post Robinson writes, “First, we’re all born with deep natural capacities for creativity and systems of mass education tend to suppress them. Second, it is increasingly urgent to cultivate these capacities — for personal, economic and cultural reasons — and to rethink the dominant approaches to education to make sure that we do.”

Years ago I came across a popular story, perhaps from Robinson, about what happens when you ask school kids who in the room is an artist. The story starts out in a kindergarten class. The question is asked and every hand goes up. Then the question is asked again in the 1st grade classroom, then 2nd grade and on up through senior year in high school. In elementary school the number of hands going up quickly drops towards half and then less. By high school there are only a few hands and by the end of high school a room is lucky to have one hand go up. Often all of the other students agree and say “yes, she is the artist.” What happened? Is school to blame? And does this narrowing of identity really have an impact on our health, happiness and success?

Mr. Ray tells the authors of Presence about “a study by Howard Gardner’s Project Zero at Harvard that involved developing intelligence tests for babies. The project also tested older subjects. The researchers found that up to age four, almost all the children were at the genius level, in terms of the multiple frames of intelligence that Gardner talks about – spatial, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, mathematical, intrapersonal and linguistic. But by age twenty, the percentage of children at genius level was down to 10 percent, and over twenty, the genius level proportion of the subjects sank to 2 percent.

Everyone asks, ‘Where did it go?’ It didn’t go anywhere; it’s covered over by the Voice of Judgement.”

The solution offered by Ray? Become aware of the Voice of Judgement, the voice that tells you “that’s a stupid idea” or “you can’t do that” and choose to disregard that voice. In a sense we must practice willful disobedience within our own minds. The key is simple awareness. Much of what he describes sounds just like meditation, albeit meditation with a specific intention. The first, hardest and most powerful step is simply deciding to notice this voice and label it. That’s it. As I am found of saying, consciousness is curative. When we decide to bring awareness to something with the intention of loving and healing ourselves the solutions do become apparent. We don’t have to be fearlessly creative to begin. We simply have to open up to the possibility that deep within us there lies an immense capability to be creative. We must consider the possibility that our education, training and cultural conditioning has been unbalanced and has favored critical reasoning (the Voice of Judgement) over creative imagining.

If you would like to re-invigorate your creative side and are having a hard time doing so perhaps it is time to look for, label and summarily dismiss your Voice of Judgement. The Voice of Judgement relies 100% on the past to determine what it thinks is possible or reasonable. Being creative, being an entrepreneur or an artist is an unreasonable act. It must be. It is about bringing into being something which does not already exist. All great creators are unreasonable in the eyes of those who did not share their vision. There is a playfulness, a childlike naivety, in all acts of creation. What would you do if you were suddenly free from your Voice of Judgement?

This post is from a series called Insights that are inspired by the work I do with my clients as a Life Coach.

If you are ready to live with more joy, more passion and more purpose then I would love to be of service. Contact me to find out how my Life Coaching Program can kickstart your journey.



Practically Ideal

duck bacon

My friend Logan has a great podcast called Practically Ideal, “the podcast for idealists who like to keep it practical”.  Aside from having a great name they offer a somewhat Libertarian take on technology, media and politics. Perhaps you remember that I wrote about Practically Ideal a while back when they asked if they could use some of my music for the show. Well, today I am a guest on said show. I am filling in for Logan’s partner Bob Caswell while he is out. My first ever podcast appearance! Honestly, I’m kinda afraid to listen to it. I drank a ton of coffee and then we talked about smartphones, duck bacon, the Singularity, Vikings, Danny Boyle and, of course, Life Coaching!

Check out the episode here: How to kick ass at life (Logan’s way of referring to what I do as a Life Coach)

Yes, that is a picture I took of Duck Bacon.



Where the Hell is Matt? 2006

I still remember the feeling I got the first time I watched this….chills.

This man is such a dork and I couldn’t love him more for it.

He has made a number of these since, but this is the original one that kicked it all off.

This man is AMAZING!

Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE



Nuns Control Body Temperature with Their Minds

orange meditation monk

Every once in a while I get excited when science documents something that intuition or experience tells me is real, but my judging mind and the society that cultivates it assumes is false. I have written about how Yoga Can Increase Gray Matter in the Brain and treat asthma. I have told you how meditation can help you sleep and reduce stress at work. I even wrote about some amazing science showing that Your Heart May Know the Future. We know that Breathing Exercises  have an amazing number of positive effects on your physiology. The breath is the link between our conscious and unconscious processes, the way to establish a conscious link between our awareness and our autonomic nervous system. Well, when you combine meditation and breathing exercises with visualizations the results are astounding.

Researchers recently visited some Tibetan nuns to take EEG readings and temperature measurements while the nuns engaged a practice known as “g-tummo” meditation. What they found is that Tibetan nuns can change the core of their body temperatures at will. This not only helps them keep warm but also give their immune systems a boost. The nuns were able to dry up wet sheets wrapped around their bodies while sitting outside in -25 degrees Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit). They were able to increase their core body temperature up to 38.3 degree Celsius (about 101 Fahrenheit).

G-tummo meditation is a spiritual practice where they harness “inner energy”. The practice requires two techniques, “Vase breath”, a form of breathing that causes heat production and visualization of flames near the spine.

For 15 years I have been practicing breathing exercises prior to and/or during meditation. To me it is obvious that at times my internal temperature changes drastically. Occasionally I get cold. The vast majority of the time I get warm or hot. More than once I have broken out in a sweat. To say that meditation can change your core temperature is obvious to me. What I have not ever attempted is to raise my temperature intentionally. I did have some intense experiences a few years back that appear to have raised my internal temperature permanently. I used to hate the cold. It bothers me far less now. Others can often feel me radiating heat. This perplexed me. In my attempts to figure out what was happening to me I stumbled across literature on kundalini. There is an entire branch of yoga dedicated to the attempts to “uncoil the serpent at the base of the spine” and release the immense energy that resides there. Yogic asanas, breathing exercises and meditation are the key to raising this “fire at the base of your spine”. My Year on the Mountain was largely about exploring and cultivating this phenomenon. I have no doubt that it works, but I hadn’t put the effort into cultivating raising my core temperature at will. Given the impending energy shortages perhaps this is what we all need living up hear in the chilly NorthEast!

[Science Daily Image: Sirikit Dam Thailand Tevaprapas Makklay/Wikimedia Commons]



Conte Remixes Skrillex & Daft Punk

Have you heard of Pomplamoose?

If not, check it. They’re awesome. Love their videos and their music.

Well, Conte is the dude. And he’s coming out with a solo EP that looks to be full of killer beats. Check out the remix’s he is doing as promotional material. The first is a Skrillex Daft Punk Mashup. The second is a take on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ (previous Amazing MenThrift Shop.  SO bad ass.

This man is AMAZING!

Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE

Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE



Center of Gravity

Circle of Friends

Are you above or below the center of gravity in your social circles?

Are you aware of times when others hold you up? How about times when they pull you down? How often do you get to have the experience of truly resonating in every way imaginable with a room full of people?

Let me preface this post by pointing out the obvious. We are all much more alike than different. We all share the same basic needs and many of the same wants. We would be served well by recognizing the many profound ways to find resonance with anyone and everyone. What follows is not intended to inspire judgement of those near you. The ideas below are intended to help ease a specific pain that I see often in my self, my friends and especially in my clients, all of whom are either creating or managing major life transitions.

When coaching people through major life transitions this is a topic that is bound to come up eventually. Whether we are looking to make big changes in our life or recognizing that they have already been happening, it is quite common to suddenly see our friendships in a new light. Relationships that once felt supporting might now feel limiting. It is normal to suddenly feel alienated, unsupported or just plain old alone. When seen in the proper light this can actually be a joyous realization. Without a big enough perspective it simply hurts.

We tend to make friends based on both circumstance and what I’ll call your attitude or worldview. Circumstances will determine who we end up in a room with. Attitude will determine who in that room we form a lasting connection with. Consider school.

When you were in school you were likely with a lot of people your age. Some of these people you called your “friends”. Others you knew, but did not feel as close to. The circumstances put you in a classroom with many of them. Your attitude, your interests, your worldview and a million little details of your personality all combined to create a resonance with some people and less resonance with others. Those we resonate the deepest with become friends.

When we are young these decisions often occur subconsciously. Occasionally kids might set out to make more “popular” or “athletic” friends, but for the most part we settle into relationships without much planning. Then we grow. Some friends grow with us. Other friends grow in different directions and at different speeds. Some friendships naturally fall away. Other friendships seem to stick through all kinds of changes. The big test for most of us is after we graduate from high school or college. When we graduate circumstances change drastically. We find ourselves in a new school, a new job, a new location and engaging new activities. We meet new people and forge new friendships based again on circumstance and attitude.

Early in life circumstances change often enough that changing attitudes go unnoticed. We naturally find ourselves with new people engaging similar pursuits and make new connections. The big upheaval that I see in myself, in my clients and in my friends comes later in life when we settle into a routine and then choose to seek growth and transformation. We begin to transform our attitude or worldview, but still spend time in the same old circumstances with our existing friends. This is when the many joys of bettering oneself will likely include some pain. It hurts to grow without our friends. They may even start judging you for it.

Years ago I came upon the term “center of gravity” in relation to a circle of friends or any other social circle. The concept is blindingly obvious when we look at children, but few realize just how important it is for adults as well. We tend to encourage children of a similar age to play together because, developmentally, they have a lot in common. With small children this is clear physically. Crawlers have a hard time keeping up with the walkers and runners. Those who can catch and throw have to throttle their abilities to hang out with an infant. This is not a judgement of better or worse. Worthiness has nothing to do with it. It is an observation of simple facts. As the years pass this becomes less and less about physical abilities and more about intellectual, emotional and potentially artistic, spiritual and many other skills or “lines of development”. Virtuoso musicians like to jam with others who have serious chops. The same is true when scientists want to talk shop. When we grow in one line we resonate with others who are a similar level of development. Again, this is easy to see in physical pursuits such as money or sports and to some extent intellectually. Where this is often overlooked is when it comes to the basic levels of consciousness, emotions and spirituality.

We all have a circle of friends that we have collected along the way. Each friend comes from a shared circumstance and a shared attitude. This circle of friends could be said to have a “center of gravity”. This is a metaphoric way of saying that each group of people has a level of consciousness or a shared worldview. This includes moral and ethical principles. We use the term gravity to describe how when one member of the group deviates from the norm the group will tend to pull them back towards the center. If Bobby is drinking or doing drugs far more than others in his circle he will feel pulled to clean up. He will feel that his actions are not normal. This is incredibly helpful when someone is struggling, when we are sad, get caught in a destructive relationship, are abusing a substance or having financial difficulties. When one person is sinking below the groups center the group will offer an energetic pull to bring them back to baseline. Sometimes this is spoken explicitly, but much of the pull happens unconsciously. We all tend to conform to unspoken, but shared values. This equalizing potential is one of the great gifts of friendships. We all have different strengths at different times and as long as we largely agree on what is important these differences get smoothed out.

But what happens when you do the really deep work of shifting your consciousness? I am going to ignore the voices that think that people don’t change. Perhaps another time I will explore the fear behind this belief. For now let’s assume that people really do develop over time. We know it happens from childhood until adulthood. It does appear to be true that most adults slow down developmentally when their physical growth stops and they start a career and a family. But what happens if your consciousness keeps developing well into your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s 50’s and beyond? Chances are not everyone in your group is developing in the same ways at the same time. Here is where the center of gravity of your social circle can have a painful and limiting effect.

If you can see how a group of friends can help pull you up when you are down then it should be clear how they can do the opposite. Your wonderful, well intentioned, perfectly amazing friends can actually pull you down when you are attempting to fly. Social circles have normative potential. Groups of people keep one another in line. We hold an unspoken shared vision of who we are and what we are likely to achieve. If our group does not approve of using drugs then we will make it hard for others within the group to use drugs. At times this is helpful. At others it is not. Wrapped up in every normative potential is a value judgement about what “we” are. If one of us deviates from this, forget the direction, the tendency is to “correct” them by reminding them what “we are”. The same holds true if you hang out with addicts and then try to quit. You will likely be pulled back into using with them based on everything from where they spend their time to what they do while there to how they define fun.

It is often true that attempting to grow is actually threatening to others. If you are doing this, why aren’t they? Unconsciously, we often sabotage our friends by holding an idea of who they are in our minds. What we know of one another is based solely on the past. We use experience to build an internal model of the people around us that is largely consistent with their actions. But what happens if they change? Does our model change? Probably not. We tend to attempt to fit them into the model that we have built for them. Often times we laugh when they claim they are not the way we have known them to be.

At this point, in order to grow, we must not only overcome our own limiting beliefs, but those of our friends as well. On top of this, there is the simple fact that as we change our interests and values change. We may no longer be going to the bar as much or complain about work the same way. My clients change their diets, they get up earlier in the morning, they change their careers, they travel more, they read different books, they meditate and change their media consumption habits. When we start creating major transitions in our lives we often find that we are not resonating with our friends in the same way. This can hurt far more than we had imagined. We still love these people. We still want the best for them. At the same time we recognize that their lifestyle and attitude are no longer aligned with ours. Some people avoid their friends. Some try desperately to change them. Others fall back into old patterns. Each of these choices comes with some degree of pain.

Here is my number one piece of advice:

Seek new friends. Engage new activities, clubs, events and gatherings that challenge you, stretch you, and push you towards the actions and ideas that you are working to develop. But, do not cut anyone out unless they are truly hurting you! You may crowd some old friends out of your schedule with adventures that they can not relate to, but keep the door open. Who knows what the future will bring. Often times friendships are a game of leapfrog in one line of development or a process of differentiation where our weaknesses are balanced by others strengths and vice versa. Sometimes you need to be the one to change and offer others a vision they couldn’t otherwise see. What is crucial is reaching out to create new connections with those you admire, those you aspire to resonate with, and those you can connect with in the areas you are growing. And recognize that you are doing the very hard and absolutely crucial work of raising the center of gravity of society at large.

This post is from a series called Insights that are inspired by the work I do with my clients as a Life Coach.

If you are ready to live with more joy, more passion and more purpose then I would love to be of service. Contact me to find out how my Life Coaching Program can kickstart your journey.




How to Stop a Bully

This guy started out as a bully. Where he ended up will surprise you. It surprised the TED audience too, so they went ahead and gave him a rousing standing ovation. It’s worth watching every single inspirational minute of this.

Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE





Gratitude Wall

Do you always want more? Do you always feel like you are one accomplishment away from happiness? What if I told you that this striving, this desire for change, for growth and transformation can become an expression of your satisfaction with the way things are right now?

You would likely ask me what I am talking about.

On one hand the desire for growth is an incredibly powerful force for positivity. On the other it is a potentially destructive force that posits happiness as that ever elusive next step. What is the difference?


Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation, of thanks; the essence of grace. Cultivating gratitude changes the entire experience of striving. People with gratitude may work far harder than those without it, but the effort is more joyful and less tied to a specific outcome. When we accept and appreciate what we already have the effort to grow and to change becomes more of a celebration and less of a competition or struggle. When we root our life in gratitude we judge both ourselves and others with less negativity. We are more likely to see potential and less likely to focus on lack.

Many of my clients end up with a gratitude practice at one point or another. There are many reasons to practice gratitude and many more benefits of doing so. For many life is an experience of constant low level anxiety that occasionally erupts into a full blown panic attack. For many such as myself there is a tendency to slip into depression. Cultivating gratitude will help with both of these. The key is to realize that gratitude, like all emotions, is not something that only happens to us, it is something that we can choose to feel more often.

For most of us there are two times when we really feel gratitude naturally. One is when we get something. The other is when we almost lose something, but then manage to hold onto it. Have you ever met someone who had a near death experience? If not, I am sure that you have heard a story or two. When someone comes face to face with a potential loss of life or limb, but then, at the very last moment, recovers or is saved, there is a very real, very beautiful and potent gratitude that permeates even the most mundane of experiences. Flowers smell fresher. The sun shines brighter. Getting to see a friend or even talk to a stranger is a gift. In the moments right after a brush with mortality simply taking a deep breath can fill one with wonder, awe and appreciation for the gift that is life.

What has changed for these people? In all honesty, the only difference between them and you, right now, is that something truly terrible almost happened to them. Think about that. By this logic, the only thing standing between you and feeling joy just for being alive is something terrible happening to you. Is that why we spend so much time thinking about what might go wrong? Are we wishing for disaster so that we can learn to appreciate life? Or does a brush with disaster help us to realize that this moment, right now, is an incredibly precious event that will never occur again? My money is on the latter.

We can start appreciating life right now. If this is not your default mode, and for most of us it is not, then it will take a bit of practice. You will have to deliberately choose to seek feelings of gratitude. And note what I just said. I did not say “thoughts” of gratitude, I said feelings. This is the key. It starts with a thought and then becomes a feeling. Here is a VERY quick exercise that I have been offering to a number of clients recently. It takes 5-10 minutes a day and it can change everything. There are two steps:

1 – LAST THING AT NIGHT: Write down 3 things that you are grateful for and FEEL the gratitude in your body. Let the thoughts and sensations that you fall asleep to be full of appreciation for what you already have.

  1. One thing about yourself
  2. One thing about someone else
  3. One random thing

2 – FIRST THING IN THE MORNING: Read the three things that you wrote last night and FEEL grateful for them. Let them run through your mind and your heart. Root your morning in them. Let them become a mantra. When another thought arises push it aside with gratefulness. Let the mood of your morning become gratitude.

For every client this practice is a little different. I suggest that some focus on specific areas of life. Some keep these notes in a gratitude journal, others put up a giant poster board and create a gratitude wall full of gratitude that they see last thing before they go to bed and first thing upon waking up. The picture above is a sheet of plastic that I hung on the wall in my apartment so that my Hana and I can write on the wall with a dry erase marker. I sit by this beautiful energy every time I write a blog post or notes to a client. It roots me in positive feelings for the many ways that I am already truly blessed. I feel so good about my current situation it is only natural to want to encourage my life to grow, to evolve and change and continue in new directions.

Do you see how this shifts the energy around wanting change? Do you see how seeking growth and transformation can stop being about what you lack and become a celebration of what you do have? Hating what you already have is the energy of death. If you hate a child for being small you are not encouraging growth, you are punishing youth. We are all young. We are all naïve. Recognizing a place where we can get better should be exciting. It should generate an appreciation for what is and the fact that it can be improved.

I used to be terribly depressed. I spent years thinking about all that I hated about life. I was great at finding things to dislike. I could barely sleep. I was practicing disgust. It was deep in the fabric of my being. Every where I looked I saw it reflected back at me. Now I practice gratitude and guess what I notice when I look at the world?

The world is full of opportunities. Our perspective is primary. If you look down you see the ground. When you look up you see the sky. If your default frame is ruminating on what you don’t want, on what you lack, on why you are lonely or sad or tired then you will find 1,000 reasons for this. But if you break the pattern, if you choose to consciously look for things to be grateful for then you will find that this type of thinking creates a self-fulfilling virtuous cycle, a feedback loop, that teaches you to reach out for more simply because what you have is so wonderful. Who wouldn’t want more when they feel wonderful? Before long you may just find that you are overflowing and the only thing left is to want more for others as well.

This post is from a series called Insights that are inspired by the work I do with my clients as a Life Coach.

If you are ready to live with more joy, more passion and more purpose then I would love to be of service. Contact me to find out how my Life Coaching Program can kickstart your journey.




Greyson Chance Singing Paparazzi

You likely saw this when it came out.

I just watched it again and was once again in awe of this little man’s intensity and talent. Who would have guessed he could do this with a Lady Gaga song?

This man is AMAZING!

Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE