Posts tagged #life coaching

Iron John + Leo Tolstoy's nonfiction + Buddha in Suburbia

(Whenever I send out a new letter I post an old one here to the blog. To get the gems and updates all hot & fresh, just sign up here to my mailing list) Hello wondrous creature,

I always get extra-reflective on snowy days like today in Pittsburgh. I've got a handful of discoveries for you to share that reflective vibe, and exciting news about my work.


Iron John by Robert Bly (audiobook on youtube) 

In addition to being an amazing poet, Robert Bly is also the leader of the Mythopoeic Men's Movement, a movement dedicated to reclaiming conscious masculinity via ritual and myth. In Iron John, Bly offers an in-depth exploration of a fairy tale story that holds important wisdom about what it takes for a man to free his psychic energy from that of his parents and the culture at large, and to integrate as a fully life-giving individual. I found out about the book via the brilliant hip-hop artist Eric Venuto aka Bamboo, who recommended it to my partner, Dey. As soon as Dey mentioned that the book had a heavily Jungian point of view I couldn't resist digging in and reading it myself. I finished it in an afternoon because it's just that good. This audio version offers the distinct pleasure of Bly's soothingly gruff voice and the advantage that you can "read" it while washing the dishes and otherwise doing tasks around the house. (I would NEVER clean my apartment if not for audio books-- I'd be too busy reading!)

The Kingdom of God is Within You - Tolstoy (ebook)


Until stumbling around wikipedia the other day I never realized that Tolstoy wrote nonfiction-- but he did -- and quite an important work of nonfiction, too. This is the book that spurred Gandhi to adopt his principles of nonviolence which led to the liberation of India from British rule. In it, Tolstoy explores the radical political dimensions of Christianity and makes the searing (and still extremely relevant) point that Jesus' teachings leave no room to justify violence of any kind, including the violence of war, which many ostensibly Christian leaders in the U.S. and around the world encourage everyday. But his critique doesn't just target those in positions of power-- it also beckons whoever digs Jesus to get way more serious about integrating that great man's disruptive and profound teaching into everyday life. Read it if you're looking for an inspiring jolt for your political and spiritual awareness.

Buddha in Suburbia (streaming documentary film)


Buddha in Suburbia follows exiled Tibetan lama Lelung Rinpoche as he strives to get along in the Western world and to reclaim the lost teachings of his previous incarnation, teachings which are key to the legacy of Tibetan Buddhism. It offers not only fascinating insight into the plight of the Tibetan people, but also the pleasure of watching a man pursue a genuine epic quest for spiritual knowledge. I don't want to trivialize the difficulty or sadness of Lelung Rinpoche's work in the wake of the Tibetan exodus-- but he's seeking the missing scrolls of his ancient people. How cool is that?!


I'm delighted to announce that I'm launching a low-cost coaching program for 2012. Each one hour session is just $25 (that's about $75 less than you'll find most coaches charge). Curious why the price is so low? You may want to read my post that details the spiritual and political motivations that inspire me. I only have 20 sessions available per week, and two of those have already been taken -- so if you're interested in grabbing a slot, I suggest you go ahead and purchase it.



How to Enter the Aether with a Poem

I'm trying to network on the interwebs, which is stealing some of my writing mojo away from this blog and putting it on... other blogs.

To get your dose of awesoming-your-lifeness this week, I invite you to check out my post on the fabulous Sources of Insight.  I've written about how anyone– and I mean anyone – can read poetry better-than-a-pro with a simple contemplative exercise that I've perfected and tested over the years with my students at the University of Pittsburgh.

In the post, you'll learn

  • how poetry expands your heart and intuition
  • how to "enter the aether" with a poem to understand it deeply

Here it is: How to Read Poetry to Expand Your Heart










Surrender Your Addiction to Suffering - Part 4

The third commitment (among the nine) that we make in order to surrender our addiction to suffering is:

3) Get honest with yourself about the consequences of exactly what happens when you accept your mind’s judgments as “the truth” and then act on them or allow them to affect your mood.


Most of us human beings live in a perpetual state of judgement.  We're constantly evaluating whatever's around us and deciding upon its relative worth.  The tragedy of this is that most often we're judging from a perspective of delusion wherein we imagine that we're separate from the life unfolding around us.


Since our judgments arise from and support this dualistic perspective of separation, we can end up in a never-ending loop of discontent and unhappiness.


The Vicious Cycle

Here's how it works: We look at a person or situation in our life, we judge it "not good enough," we treat that person or situation with much less than total love and acceptance (usually with criticism, disrespect, unkindness, impatience, indifference), then that person or situation responds (understandably) with a negative reaction to our ill-will, and that negative reaction validates our initial judgment of "not good enough" or "unsatisfying."


In other words, we reject the circumstances around us, they reject us right back, which gives us more reason to reject them.  When the next tough situation comes up, you're already depleted and weary from your battle with the last one.  Your respond with even less patience and more rejection.... and the cycle continues. When we're operating in this vicious cycle, it's easy to forget that we're doing it to ourselves.  After all, people are rude to us, situations do go badly.  It looks as if we have an objective rationale for deciding that stuff sucks.  The mirroring responsiveness of the world outside us to our negativity can do a good job of masking that it's our negativity which fuels the problem.


This isn't to say that there aren't situations in the world which are massively challenging or that just by altering our disposition we can make everything totally peachy-- but it is to say that by altering our disposition we can make things a hell of a lot peachier than they would be if we just persisted in our criticism and rejection.


What circumstance in your life right now isn't matching up with your story about how it "should" be?  How do you treat that circumstance when you're believing that it's lacking?  Do you complain about it? Resent it?


Honesty is the cure

You can practice this commitment by being willing to look with fearless honesty at the results of your own judgment.  How do you treat yourself when you believe something in your life is lacking?  How do you treat those around you? Are you less-than-fully-present, brusque, self-pitying?  How do you deal with the projects and responsibilities in your life? What do you do to make yourself feel better? Do you reach for a cookie, a cigarette, a glass of wine, a compliment? None of those things are inherently evil, but they can all wreck havoc in our lives if we use them to cover-up the stress caused by believing our thoughts.  Don't shy away from minutely recording your own response to your belief in your mind's story.


The Virtuous Cycle

Whatever it is about your life that's bugging you, ask yourself this: what would it look like if I totally embraced, accepted, and loved this situation?  What if peace and joy were more important to me than having it "my way"? Take time to strongly visualize and feel this scenario.  Allow yourself to get a vision of the virtuous cycle.


In the virtuous cycle, a situation or person appears who challenges you-- and rather than responding with negative judgment and shutting down into aloofness or unkindness, you open up into love and acceptance.  The situation or person then senses your love and responds -- often in very surprising ways! -- to the spaciousness and gentleness that you've offered.  You receive positive feedback from the life around you, and this leads you to feel even better.  Then, when the next tough thing comes up, you have extra reserves of love energy and willingness with which to meet it.





Image by Kudumomo, used under Creative Commons licensing, borrowed from Flickr.