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In September of 1988 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I was 31 years old and previous to this, immortal. Perhaps I was mistaken on the last part. Two months later on New Years Eve my ex-wife left me taking our two year old daughter. In March of 1989 I finished eight months of very intense chemotherapy. The depression started long before that.

 

As of this writing I’m still alive so I guess the chemo worked. It worked at clearing the cancer in my body but it did nothing to soothe the cancer that was festering in my emotions. As hard as it was having cancer, the pain of losing my young family was devastating. How we got to that point is unimportant, both to the point of this article and to the decades that have past. I’ve long since forgiven my ex-wife for her actions and myself for whatever I may have done to lead her to them. I have a terrific relationship with my daughter (she’s 20) and my present wife of 13 years.

 

But my survival is proof to anyone who thinks things are hopeless. It’s funny, I had people ask me-“How did go through with all that, how did you survive?” My answer was always- “Because I’m not too fond of the alternative” Truly, I went to chemo when I had to, cried, drank too much, finally went to work, met new friends and lovers (even with a “chemo-cut”), and eventually found life again. There was no magic bullet and no short cut. It hurt sometimes, a lot. And it taught me valuable lessons. It hardened me and softened me as well. I still don’t know the meaning of life. I still sometimes act as if I’ll live forever- and this from someone who smelled death’s putrid breath! Even being in that situation I still find pain, sorrow, joy, excitement, and happiness. We cannot know the number of our days nor how we might spend them. The only thing you can control is how you process what happens to you. If someone dies and no one calls you, that death has no affect on you. That loved one died and you don’t care…and how could you? So it’s not the action, it’s the reaction that affects you. Subjective Reality? I don’t know. But I do know it’s true.

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Be-Do-Have

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One of my favorite personal development books is Wayne Dyer’s “You’ll See It When You Believe It.” I know Dr. Dyer is not the originator of most of his ideas, it’s why I don’t mind re-hashing them here. I’ve heard it said that Hemingway is quoted,”Amateurs borrow, Artists steal.” So I am jacking all my favorite “guru’s” material wholesale. But it’ll be filtered through the Buddy Show.

Have-Do-Be

Back to Dr Dyer (and I’ve heard T. Harv Ecker use these examples as well). When we are wanting something, whether it is material gain, better relationships, spiritual understanding, etc, most of us operate under the concept of Have, Be, Do. This is most people’s life experience. They think,”When I have this, I’ll do that, and then I’ll be this.” Once I finally get that lover, I’ll be fulfilled, and then I’ll be a happier person. Once I finally make $40,000 a month as an internet marketer, then I won’t have money worries, then I will be fulfilled. You follow the pattern, I’m sure. And we all tend to think like this. So we’re looking for the final outcome but are stopped from getting it because we can’t get through the first two steps. And notice that the final outcome almost always similar. We want fulfillment, we want happiness. Of course then we need to drill down and figure out just what those things mean to us.

Be-Do-Have

This is Dyer’s idea of “You See It When You Believe It.” This is where we say to ourselves, “I need to be, to develop myself into the type of person who will do whatever it takes to have what I want. And please don’t limit this to material things. Let’s say you want to move to a cave in the Himalayas and be a monk. You have to put yourself into that mindset. I mean the idea of traveling to India or Nepal and living in an isolated place with few creature comforts…takes a strong person. That’s not giving up on life, it’s embracing it to the fullest!

Having comes after doing, right? So how can it be that we normally put having at the beginning? If we have to have something before we can be and do, then we are setting ourselves up to fail. So, why don’t we do the things that are required for our success? Because of fear. Sometimes we’re just afraid of “what if…” What if I suck? What I fail? Or worse (and this is a big one for me) what if I win? “What if” is a dead end game. What if cows fly? See how ridiculous that is? Why do we invest fear in something that does not exist? Why is it that we can take two people with exactly the same resources and one of them “thrives while the other just stives or dies”, to quote Harv Ecker.

It is my inner world that creates my outer world

A well used phrase to be sure. But it’s true, you can’t find inner peqce outside yourself. Again to quote Harv Ecker (and he got it from someone else, no doubt)- You can’t enjoy the fruits of your life without paying greater attention to the roots of your life.

When you come upon some struggle in your endeavors what happens in your mind? What kind of internal chatter starts up? How often is this chatter negative and non-supportive to getting the job done? Who is this non-supportive chattering person? If it’s you (and it is) who is the one taking issue and asking about it? Well, that’s you too. So are there two yous?

 

With tension and inappropriate stress being accused of shortening people’s lives and compromising their lifestyles, it’s easy to see how the relaxation principle is good for health as well. When the body is relaxed it can start to loosen its muscles and connective tissue achieving a buoyant springiness that feels natural and comfortable.

 

As the body relaxes it aligns itself with the downward force of gravity. Clearly it is easier to practice this total unity of body and mind while still rather than performing complicated movements. The practice relaxing and aligning with gravity while remaining upright is called in Chinese, zhan zhuang, or standing like a post. For our purpose we will just call it standing practice

Standing Practice

 

As I mentioned, one of the most fundamental practices in the internal martial arts of China is standing practice. While simple in appearance this exercise can actually be quite demanding. Its purpose is to find a relaxed and balanced standing posture. In this posture we will progressively and systematically release the unnecessary tension in the body. Years of conditioned living we have acquired many bad habits and have lost some of the mind/body unity and suppleness of our childhood. In addition standing practice is a kind of meditation that brings a wholeness of being. It develops a perception and clarity that is at once dynamic and calm.

As the soft tissue releases its tension it sinks to its natural position in the body. All sense of “holding ones self up” that wastes energy and reduces mechanical efficiency can be done away with.

 

 

 

Begin with the feet parallel, about hip-to-shoulder distance apart. Stand comfortably with the arms hanging at your sides, palms facing back. Allow the knees to bend slightly with the knees pointing in the same direction as the toes. The hips and waist should remain level with no tilt to either side. The gentle upward stretch of the body will elongate the muscles stomach but otherwise they should be completely relaxed. Allow the body weight to fall into middle and arches of the feet. Breathe naturally at first, breathing deeply, inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils. As you start to relax you can rock slightly front to back to find where the center of your foot is. Then come to a stable posture and as you continue to relax allow your breathing to become longer and softer.

In that our intention is to gently stretch the body in relaxation we don’t want the body to simply go slack as we release tension. The position of the head is the key to alignment of the whole body. We want to stretch the body gently from one end to the other To stretch there need to be a pulling from both ends. Gravity will take care of the body releasing downward so you will gently allow the head to lift upward off the top of the spine. Be careful to keep the chin down so that the neck does not bend backward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abdominal Breathing

 

As you become more relaxed you can allow the belly to expand slightly when you inhale and release on the exhale. Eventually you will be able to feel the front, back, and sides of the lower torso. This method starts you to be able to use your intention to control the body.

 

 

Start at the top of the head, and working your way down the body, as if your body is filled with a slowly draining liquid, feeling for any signs of tension, contraction, pain, a feeling of being locked-up, stuck up, held up, or just plain not right. As you encounter these feelings allow them to release. One method some use is feeling that these sensations are blockages that you can dissolve, like ice turning to water, and water turning to gas. The important thing is that you actually feel this happen inside your body rather than simply visualize it in your mind. Whatever the method, you want to experience of feeling inside of the body.

Just as a caveat, we tend to hold emotional trauma in our body so be aware that sometimes these issues can recur in practice. I have had experiences when teaching this type of material where some people will feel old injuries flare up and some emotional event come back to haunt them. Sometimes this made them feel bad or even weep. This is not uncommon and should not be cause for alarm.

My experience is if you use this method of systematic relaxation and breathing, it can bring a profound feeling of relaxed focus. We use the mind to progressively relax. The tendency is for the mind to jump from thought to thought like a drunken monkey. This way we give it something to do. If you find your self thinking these thoughts just calmly go back to the method.

 

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What is it about us? We don’t always live our lives the way we want to. We do what we do because, in general, we don’t know any other way to do it. We want to be living our lives with a purpose, calm and at peace with the world. The problem is sometimes we don’t quite know what the rules are. Here’s one for you: “The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” You’ve probably heard that one before, I’m certainly no great innovator. But it’s true for me. If I am not totally in the present I have a habit of running these scripts in my mind…shoulda done this, coulda done that, you know the drill. If I was the scholar warrior, the spiritual warrior that I intend to be, only now would matter. It’s important that we live right here now- in the present. The past is gone and there’s nothing to be gained by second guessing what has already happened. The future has yet to be…and is mostly unknown…so apart from proper planning is pointless to nervously anticipate. We want (and I would say need) to develop the type of character we can love and respect. As the saying goes: you can’t give what you ain’t got. When you live a true and authentic life you project a positive energy that can’t help but effect others. When you live an authentic life you allow people to trust you, to be able to…learn from you, gain from you…buy from you… if you are in a commercial endevour. Have you ever met someone and the moment you met them, for some reason you took an instant dislike to? Or perhaps the opposite- someone who you just knew was o.k. by you? The very energy of their presence lets you know that you are going to be great friends.

Living an authentic life means being able to do the things that complete you. It’s like I heard Wayne Dyer once say, “Don’t die with your music still in you.” Don’t live an unfullfilled life. Don’t live an inauthentic life. The true source of happiness and any success is where?

In all of us.

Joy!

Motivational speaking, self help, inspirational stuff, heck even religion and philosophy can get slapped into this catagory. I know a lot of so-called pragmatic people sneer at this topic but I’ve been interested in this sort of thing for a long time. I guess it probably started out in high school with my interest in Zen Buddhism. I’ve always had a questioning mind and there had to a reason why all this existed. Later I started reading Anthony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Denis Waitley, Brian Tracy, and a slew of others. I purchased Tony Robbins’ course from the television infomercial, as well back in the early 90s.

I’m going to write a lot about personal development as I try harder to elevate myself throughout mid-life (I just turned 50). I assume, if you’re like me, that keeping personally motivated is an ongoing challenge. So again, welcome, and feel free to join me on this jouney to unity.

Lifeworks is an weblog that seeks to help my readers (and myself) in our ongoing challenge to figure out what this life is all about. Now I know that sounds like a tall order and it is. This is my first post so we begin at the beginning. I want to have an ongoing conversation about:

  • Time Management
  • Health Issues
  • Money and Wealth
  • Fitness
  • Conciousness and
  • Courage

I added the last one because I truly think it takes a great deal of courage to lead a self examined life. How many people do you know who just seem to coast through lives blindly, buffeted about by the rough tides of circumstance? I not only know several, I’ve been one on many times.

My blog is one of hundreds dedicated to personal devlopment and I’ll be sharing several more with you as the time goes on. Here’s a terrific one to start. Check out Steve Pavlina’s great site at stevepavlina.com/

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